Sunday, January 30, 2011

Daily Deals

I know we all know about Groupon deals, but I had no idea of the world of daily coupon deals online that I was missing out on. Thanks to Sadie and Katrina, I was inspired to check out as many Phoenix daily deal sites I could find. Check out the Daily Deals tab to see how many I found! If you know of any I haven't included, leave a comment.

Happy coupon shopping to you all!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chicken Stroganoff

from All Recipes

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1/8 cup butter
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup

Put chicken, butter and dressing mix in slow cooker; mix together and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
Add cream cheese and soup, mix together and cook on high for another 1/2 hour or until heated through and warm.

This recipe is from All Recipes, however, I changed the margarine to butter and the cream of chicken soup to cream of mushroom soup.

It was very easy to make and tasted very good. The whole family enjoyed it!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hungarian Goulash

I started making this recipe probably close to 10yrs ago. I am fairly certain I saw it on the Martha Stewart show.

2.5 lbs beef stew meat
2.5 lbs onions, chopped
2 Tbsp oil
garlic powder
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup paprika
egg noodles
sour cream

Season flour with salt, pepper and garlic powder in a shallow dish. Sorry, didn't measure this part (probably about a cup of flour and more seasoning than you think you need - helpful isn't it?)

Coat the bottom of a large pot (dutch oven or any large pot with a lid) with 2 Tbsp oil (you can use olive oil or whatever oil you like to cook with). Lightly toss the stew meat in the flour mixture (doesn't have to completely coat each piece). Working in batches, brown the meat in the pot and set aside.

Chop onions (they cook down a lot, so don't worry about large pieces). Once meat is all browned and set aside, cook onions in the pot until they start to become translucent. You are not trying to brown the onions or carmelize them, just sweating them (if some brown that is ok too). Cook about 10min, stirring occasionally. Add the beef broth, paprika and beef (with juices) back to the pot. Stir, reduce heat to med-low, cover with lid and cook for 2 1/2 hours.

I use hungarian paprika,
but there are several types of paprika, sweet and spicy, so whatever sounds good to you.

Serve over egg noodles and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chambord Cupcakes

This is my version of a drink I like (Chambord Sour) in a cupcake. It is a mixture of lemon, blackberries and Chambord. However, if you are worried about an alcohol taste (as my husband was), there really is none. And I think if you took out the Chambord and left everything else the same, it would still be a very yummy cupcake.

1 box lemon cake mix (or your favorite lemon cake recipe)
1 cup blackberry preserves

2 (8oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. Chambord
2 Tbsp. blackberry preserves
2 cups powdered sugar

Prepare the lemon cake batter, divide into cupcake pans. Warm blackberry preserves in the microwave for about 15sec. and stir to thin a little. Spoon small amounts of blackberry preserves on top of batter. Using a tooth pick, swirl blackberry preserves into batter. Bake as directed for lemon cake recipe.
Once completely cooled, frost cupcakes.


Beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 3min or more until blended, creamy and smooth. Add, vanilla, lemon juice, and Chambord. Mix until combined. Slowly add powdered sugar, stopping to scrape down bowl. Add blackberry preserves and mix until well blended. Add powdered sugar if frosting is too thin for piping onto cupcakes. This makes more than enough to cover 24 cupcakes (depending on how thickly applied you like your frosting).
Garnish with sugared lemon zest.

Teriyaki Pork Loin Chops

This is not a recipe so much as an advertisement for my favorite teriyaki sauce:
It used to be this sauce was a little hard to find (only at Trader Joe's or stores like that), but now I see it everywhere. I like it so much better than other bottled teriyaki sauce. This is not thick like a glaze and has a very different flavor to your stereotypical teriyaki sauces. And it's GOOD!

So, I just marinated some pork tenderloin chops in the sauce in the refrigerator for about 4-5hrs (but you could do overnight as well), then grilled them up for just a few minutes (these were very thin cut, boneless chops), then placed them on top of white rice with asparagus (that I also sauteed in the teriyaki sauce). Very easy. Very tasty. If it was not a PTA night and I had just a few more minutes, I would have made a thicker sauce by adding a cornstarch slurry to some extra sauce in the pan, so we would could pour it over the rice. But it was still good without it.

My parents make a baked salmon with this teriyaki sauce and it is seriously the best salmon ever (really the only salmon I eat).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not Quite Jersey Mike's

If you've never been to Jersey Mike's, you should go. They make the best italian sub. I've recently developed a bit of an aversion to lunchmeat. I used to really like turkey sandwiches, but now I find myself pulling all of the meat off of the sandwich by the time I'm done with it. However, inspite of my newly acquired distaste of lunchmeat, I love italian meat subs. Weird, I know. Those subs are piled up with various types of lunchmeat and I love it! But, I think Jersey Mike's makes the best (their chipotle philly cheese steak is really great too).
When people ask if it's been hard not eating out, it's not the day to day run through the drive thru and pick something up out of necessity due to lack of planning ahead that I miss, but my favorite places, those I miss. So, today, I made my next best thing to Jersey Mike's Italian sub. I bought sub rolls from the bakery, I bought pepperoni, salami and ham and swiss (this is not identical to the original, but close enough). Now, at Jersey Mike's the meat is sliced super thin right in front of you, their bread is yummy and fresh and they use provolone (swiss was on sale), then they top it with "the juice" which is simply oil, vinegar and spices. So, I bought this sub dressing...
which is also just made up of oil, vinegar and spices, but I didnt have to make it myself (which sounds really lazy, I know), but it was good and I'd buy it again for sure. I missed a crucial step to this sandwich and that is lettuce and tomato. I was so preoccupied in the store with getting the meats and "juice" that I forgot to pick up some lettuce and tomato (they were definitely missed).

But, in the end, the sub was very tasty. Not quite Jersey Mike's, but it will do for now.

Uses for Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets

Here are some useful things to do with dryer sheets other than throw them in your dryer with your clothes...

1. It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them. It also repels mice.

2. Spread sheets around foundation areas, or in trailers, or cars that are sitting and it keeps mice from entering your vehicle.

3. It takes the odor out of books and photo albums that don't get opened too often.

4. It repels mosquitoes. Tie a sheet through a belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season.

5. Eliminate static electricity from your television (or computer) screen.

6. Since sheets are designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your television screen with a used sheet to keep dust from resettling.

7. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a dryer sheet.

8. To freshen the air in your home - Place an individual dryer sheet in a drawer or hang in the closet.

9. Put dryer sheet in vacuum cleaner.

10. Prevent thread from tangling. Run a threaded needle through a sheet before beginning to sew.

11. Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual dryer sheet inside empty luggage before storing.

12. To freshen the air in your car - Place a sheet under the front seat.

13. Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti-static agent apparently weakens the bond between the food and the pan.

14. Eliminate odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet at the bottom of the wastebasket.

15. Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a dryer sheet will magnetically attract all the lose hairs.

16. Eliminate static electricity from Venetian blinds. Wipe the blinds with a sheet to prevent dust from resettling.

17. Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sand papering. A used sheet will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.

18. Eliminate odors in dirty laundry. Place an individual sheet at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper.

19. Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a dryer sheet in your shoes or sneakers overnight.

20. Golfers put a sheet in their back pocket to keep the bees away.

21. Put a sheet in your sleeping bag and tent before folding and storing them. It will keep them smelling fresh.

22. Wet a dryer sheet, hose down your car, and wipe lovebugs off easily.

I am not sure what "love bugs" are. I suppose those are the smashed bugs on your windsheild and the front of your car? I guess "Love bugs" does sound better than "bug guts" which is what I would call them.

I haven't used a single one of these ideas. But I did think it way too interesting not to pass along. So, you are welcome for this valuable information. Oh, and one more use for these dryer sheets. In case you fall into the category of "I have way too much time on my hands", you can always make a dress out of the dryer sheets like these people did...

from Twisted Textiles

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday morning donut disaster

A few years ago, I saw on Semi-Homemade on Food TV these donuts made from store bought biscuit dough. I recently have come across several postings for these online on various blog sites. So, I gave them a try today. My family was skeptical that biscuit dough would taste like donuts, but I assured them that everyone who has posted this recipe has said how much they taste like real donuts.

I decided to make half of mine with an apple glaze and half with cinnamon and sugar. I wanted to try jelly filled on the donut holes, but didn't end up doing that (maybe next time).

My "tester" donut hole went in first. I didnt think the oil was hot enough, so I increased the heat before making the rest of the donuts. My daughter rolled the donut hole in cinnamon and sugar after it was cooled a little and she was the official "tester". She really liked them. So, off we go. As I was putting the donuts in the oil, they were browning so fast (within seconds), I had to quickly turn them so they would not burn. I cooked them all up, placed on paper towels, ready to cover with glaze or cinnamon and sugar.
They looked pretty tasty. However, they were uncooked in the middle. Yuck! Raw biscuit dough, although covered in cinnamon and sugar, still not good. I think my tester was actually the way to go. The oil was not so hot that the outsides would begin to burn before the insides were cooked all the way. Oops! On the upside, the apple glaze was super easy and tasted really good. I think using orange juice or lemon would also be really good. I think the glazes would be good on various bunt cakes or a breakfast muffin.

All was not lost, I popped them in the oven on a baking sheet for about 10min to finish cooking them inside. Then they tasted kind of like a biscuit covered in cinnamon and sugar. It was a big let down. My husband swears that even if they had cooked properly, they would have tasted like biscuits to him. He thinks crescent rolls and other refrigerated doughs, no matter how you try to disguise them (to make pizza crust or donuts or whatever), they taste like refrigerated dough. He's probably right. But I wanted him to be wrong.

Semi-Homemade Donuts

Before you attempt these, read about my first time making them, so you can avoid the same mistakes:

1 Can refrigerated biscuit dough
Vegetable Oil

Apple Glaze:
4 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 Tbsp apple juice

Other topppings:
Cinnamon and sugar
powdered sugar
chocolate glaze

Unroll package of biscuit dough, cut center circle out of each biscuit using biscuit cutter or any other round cutter. Heat oil in a skillet (enough to cover biscuit about halfway). Drop in donut and donut holes for about 30sec - 1min or until browned, then turn and brown on other side (tip: don't get the oil so hot it browns them faster than this on each side - see what happens). Remove and place on tray lined with paper towels to drain. Once cooled, but still warm, cover with glaze or sugar.

Apple glaze:
Stir 4 Tbsp powdered sugar with 1 Tbsp apple juice until sugar is dissolved and looks smooth and shiny. Pour over donuts on cookie rack on top of baking sheet to catch the drippings.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Raisin Bran Muffins

My mom used to make these when we were kids. What my mom liked about them was that you could store batter in tupperware in the fridge and pull it out when you wanted some hot, fresh muffins. She would make a huge batch to keep in the fridge and we would have muffins every morning for breakfast. I found the recipe recently at Brown Eyed Baker and was excited to make them with my kids.

Yield: 12 muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Inactive Time: 45 minutes | Bake Time: 15 to 20 minutes

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2½ cups Raisin Bran cereal
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1¼ cups buttermilk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with liners, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugars. Stir in the cereal; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract.

4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir until completely combined. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes (this allows the cereal to soften in the batter). If you don’t want to use immediately, you can refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.

5. When ready to bake, divide the batter between the 12 muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar.

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days, and then in refrigerator for up to another week.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pop Pop's Burritos

Growing up my dad made these burritos that my brother and I loved. I hesitate to even call this a recipe since it all comes from a can (what kind of burrito were you expecting from a New Yorker who still struggles to pronounce "quesadilla"?). But they are seriously good. I loved them as much tonight as I did when I was a kid (I ate three of them, yes 3, don't judge me!).

Since my homemade tortilla adventure didn't turn out so well, I used the next best thing for my burritos...
...the uncooked tortilla that you heat on a skillet. Far less work than the homemade tortillas and tastier than my version. Although, the feedback on my tortillas so far was "what were you thinking substituting butter for lard, you stupid gringa?"

2 12oz cans roast beef with gravy
2 cans chili beans
1 can ranch style beans
1 4oz can diced green chiles
shredded cheese

Mix it all together, heat it up. I used the crockpot. Not because it needs to cook slowly or for a long time, but because I can leave it and walk away. I stir it until the beef chunks shred up and it's done when it's hot. Wrap up in a tortilla with some cheese. Eat. Yum!

2 more things: 1. It comes out quite soupy - notice the slotted spoon (essential to prevent a soggy tortilla mess). 2. Another recipe that makes an enormous amount (plan accordingly - like invite me over, I'll eat three).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spicy Potato Corn Chowder

We had a lot of canned corn in our pantry, so I decided to make a corn chowder to use it up. I've never made corn chowder before, but this recipe (which I made up as I went along) turned out really good. I thought it was lick-the-bowl-clean good. I was the only one in my family to have a second bowl, though. I like spicy and this had a little spice, but was still quite mild. If you make it as is, I can't imagine anyone finding it too hot. If you like spicy, I would suggest adding more peppers than this recipe calls for.

3 cans corn
1 can creamed corn
1 4oz can diced green chiles
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb bacon
2 cups half and half
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp butter
6 small - med potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, peeled and diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
garlic powder
cayenne pepper
shredded cheese

Place cans of corn, green chiles and 2 cups chicken broth in crock pot. In a skillet, cook 1 lb. bacon until crispy, drain over paper towels, crumble and set aside. Using some of the bacon grease, brown the onions, celery and jalapenos in the skillet, season with pepper and garlic powder (you could use fresh garlic here, but I was being lazy). Add the cooked veggies and half of the cooked bacon to the crock pot. Melt 2 Tbsp butter and stir in 2 Tbsp flour to create a roux. Add 2 cups half and half, stir with a whisk to break up any lumps. Continue to heat and stir until it begins to thicken. Add 2 cups chicken broth, stir. Add cubed potatoes to the cream mixture, cook for 15 min. Add potatoes and cream to the crock pot, stir. Season with cayenne pepper. Cook on low for 5hrs until potatoes are soft. Top each bowl with bacon crumbles and shredded cheese.

Oh yeah, this recipe makes a ton! We ate 5 big bowls of it for dinner and have at least that much left.

Friday, January 7, 2011

End of week one

We made it through our first week of no eating out. It was not as hard as I thought it would be. I don't miss eating out. Sometimes I worry about not having time to prepare food. This week a few meals that were planned had to be postponed due to time issues. So, we had leftover tamales one night, frozen pizza one night and "fend for yourself" night (which was my first pb&j dinner). We had two crock pot meals this week (chicken and stuffing was edible, but not recipe postworthy and tonight we had chicken and rice).

So far, there has been no jonesing to hit the drive thru. But I did pass a Thai place that made me crave yellow curry. I guess I'll have to try to make it myself. I'll let you know how that turns out :)

Chicken and Rice

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cups white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and chiles
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder

Mix the cream of chicken soup with chicken broth and water in a crock pot, add can of tomatoes, add rice, stir. Place chicken breasts on top of rice, push down to mostly cover with liquid. Add spices. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

How I will save a $1,000 this year

Along with our family's fast food habit, I have a morning Starbucks addiction. I've never calculated the cost of this habit, mostly because I know how ridiculous it is to spend $5 on a drink almost everyday (and at least 15min in an outrageously long drive thru line). So, here it is, my iced venti chai tea is $5 per day at 5 days per week = $1,300 per year. Really, I should hide my head in shame. That's crazy.

Here's my solution:
The chai tea mix costs $5 and makes about 5 large glasses and I use about $.12 of milk per cup of tea. So, that costs me about $291.20 per year for a savings of $1,008.80 per year. I didn't estimate the cost of the ice or the straw :)

I could save even more if I made my own chai tea mix rather than buying the Tazo stuff. So, keep an eye out for my fabulous homemade chai tea mix recipe.

Chicken Taco Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 16oz can chili beans
1 15oz can black beans
1 15oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1 12oz can tomato sauce
1 12oz can chicken broth
2 10oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 1.25oz package taco seasoning
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
handful of cubed velveeta
shredded Cheddar cheese
sour cream
crushed tortilla chips
sliced avocado

Place onions, beans, corn, tomato sauce, broth and tomatoes (I use Rotel) and taco seasoning in crock pot. Put chicken breasts on top, pressing down to cover with liquid. Cook on low for 6-8hrs. The chicken should shred apart easily with forks while still in the crock pot. Stir in cubes of velveeta with last 20-30min of cooking time. I have also used a can of cheese soup instead of velveeta. This step definitely thickens the soup, so it is more like a chili, without the cheese, it is more like soup.

Serve topped with sour cream, tortilla chips, shredded cheese and avocado slices.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Crock Pot Oatmeal

I got the idea for the oatmeal prepared in a crock pot from Mommy's Kitchen as well as the idea for creating the water bath in the crock pot, however, the oatmeal I made was not the same recipe. There are several crock pot oatmeal recipes out there and most all call for steel cut oats (because of the longer cooking time). However, what I had in my pantry were rolled oats, so I used a combination of a few recipes along with what sounded good to me and created my own recipe.

My husband and son both liked the oatmeal. My husband said it reminds him of bread pudding (he and my son are both bread pudding fans). I would agree the texture is a lot like bread pudding (the texture mostly being what I don't like about bread pudding). It's also not as sweet as bread pudding and definitely has an oatmeal flavor. But I think bread pudding is a good description of it because if you are expecting a traditional oatmeal, this will disappoint you. I was not first planning to post this recipe because it turned out nothing like I expected, but my husband really enjoyed it, so I thought maybe I should share the recipe. My son just ate it tonight for dessert, warmed up with vanilla ice cream on top (the way he likes his bread pudding).

2 cups rolled oats
3 cups water
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt

Mix oats with cinnamon, allspice and salt. Put in bowl that can fit inside of your crock pot (and is oven safe). In a separate bowl, mix egg, sugar, applesauce and vanilla. Add egg and sugar mixture to the oats, pour water on top. Place bowl inside crock pot and fill crock pot with water (going up the sides of the bowl almost to the top). Put crock pot on low for 8hrs.

I put mine in before bed and turned it off in the morning. The water bath method made cleaning the crock pot super easy. The cinnamon and allspice seems to settle on top a bit (probably floats on top of the water), so I mixed all of the oatmeal together once out of the crock pot. We stored our oatmeal in the bowl it cooked in with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 3 days before it was all eaten. I was going to heat it in a bowl with some milk to thin it out to oatmeal consistency and maybe add some agave syrup or stir in some raisins etc. But I never got to try that since my family liked the bread pudding oatmeal.

Cinnamon sugar tortillas

Today, was a record making day. I do not eat leftovers. I just don't. There are a couple of things (like pizza) that I will eat leftover. But just about anything else will not get eaten by me. I bring home to-go boxes from restaurants, but I'm not sure why because it always gets thrown in the trash. But today, I ate left over chicken salad for lunch and for dessert I decided to use up the left over tortillas. That's two times in one day!

So here is what I did with the tortillas. I heated some vegetable oil in a saute pan, fried the tortillas for about 10 sec. on each side, then sprinkled (maybe more like dumped than sprinkled) with cinnamon sugar mixture while still hot. They were crispy, sugary, cinnamony goodness. We put them in bowls with vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm Good. The neighborhood kids thought so too!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day Two

I feel like I spent a good portion of my day in the kitchen. I am looking ahead to the work week realizing I will not have the time or the energy to spend as much time cooking. But today, it was fun and the kids helped out. I enjoy having them help me cook.

For lunch, we had chicken salad sandwiches. I love these. I realize this is a super simple dish (not necessarily requiring a recipe), but this is how I have been making them for years with lots of compliments.

For dinner, we had chicken tacos. I had some left over chicken from the chicken broccoli rolls, I grilled up some more chicken, made homemade salsa, guacamole and homemade tortillas, topped with cheese and sour cream. They were really good tacos. I was slightly disappointed with the tortillas. I got the recipe from My Wooden Spoon, I used butter instead of lard (which may be a really big deal). They weren't great on their own, but with the taco, I really liked them. At first, I didn't roll them thin enough, so they were almost like pita bread. My daughter actually liked them better like that. She ate them with butter. I found them to be a little dry. But I am not giving up, I'll try them again, maybe with lard next time.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

3 cans (12.5oz) Chicken Breast, drained
2 celery stalks, peeled, sliced
2 green onion stems, sliced
1/3 cup nuts, finely chopped
Lemon juice
salt, pepper, garlic powder
Put drained chicken into large mixing bowl, add mayo and lemon juice. I don't measure this step. I squirt a couple times around the bowl with the lemon juice and mix in mayo until it is to the desired consistency. I prefer my chicken salad a little drier than most, so I use less mayo. Add celery, green onions and nuts. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste, mix well. Be sure to taste it and mix in more seasonings as needed. Pile on to croissants. Yum!

This recipe is very simple with simple ingredients, but always gets eaten up quickly whenever I take these sandwiches anywhere. You could use any cooked chicken, shredded or chopped. I prefer my chicken to mix up the way tuna does, so I prefer the can.


4 avocadoes
1 Tbsp sour cream
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, to taste

Mash avocadoes with fork, add sour cream (I like my guacamole creamy, you can leave out the sour cream if you prefer pure avocado), add lemon juice and seasonings to taste.

This is a very simple recipe, but people often ask me how I make my guacamole. I think it is the spices that really make this recipe.


4 Roma tomatoes, roasted
3 green onion stems, roasted
2 jalapeno peppers, roasted
3 cloves garlic, roasted
3 cloves garlic, fresh
2 large limes, juiced
2 Tomatillos
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles
salt, pepper, cumin, to taste

Chop roma tomatoes into quarters, chop jalapenos into quarters, remove seeds and stem. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray, place tomatoes, jalapenos, green onions and 3 cloves garlic on baking sheet, spray all the vegetables with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt. Bake in oven at 400 degrees until veggies begin to brown. You'll have to remove the green onions before the others since those cook up quicker.

Cut tomatillos in half, place in food processor with lime juice and 3 cloves garlic, add roasted veggies and blend until smooth (if you like chunkier salsa, blend less). Stir in can of Rotel (or any other can of diced tomatoes, or dice up your own fresh tomatoes), sprinkle salt, pepper and cumin to taste.

This salsa came out mild to medium which was perfect for the whole family. I like a bit spicier salsa, so if you like really spicy, you may want to add more jalapenos, but as is, this recipe should be mild enough for most.

Homemade Tortillas

4 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup lard
Hot water (up to 2 cups)
Sift flour, salt, baking powder into mixing bowl. Add lard, cut into flour mixture (like making a pie crust). Add hot water (as hot as your hands can stand it) and knead until dough forms (will be sticky). Pinch off dough to form small balls, set aside let rest 15 mins. Heat griddle while dough rests. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, cook on griddle. When bubbles stop (about 3 mins), flip, cook 3 mins more.

Can be stored in ziploc bag for several days in the refrigerator.

Recipe from My Wooden Spoon

Chicken Broccoli Rolls

Chicken Broccoli Rolls:

2 pkgs crescent rolls
4 cups shredded or cubed chicken, cooked*
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups chopped broccoli, cooked (parboiled)
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (follow crescent roll package instructions)

Lay out crescent roll triangles. Fill top portion with scoop of chicken, scoop of broccoli, sprinkle cheese on top, and salt and pepper. Roll toward small end of triangle. Place on baking sheet and bake for 11min (follow directions on package of crescent rolls). Makes 16 rolls.

*I marinated chicken breasts in italian dressing, then grilled it and chopped into small pieces. You could use canned chicken, shred up chicken from a rotisserie chicken, or whatever cooked chicken sounds good to you.

About half way through I started wrapping the ends back over the sides as I rolled them. This made more of a closed pocket than a crescent roll shape. I liked the way those came out better, it held the filling in better. You can really use any meat, cheese, veggie combo with these. I think ham and swiss would be good. I think a wetter meat mixture might be good too (like chicken salad or tuna salad).

Day one

For our first dinner of no eating out, I decided to revive an old recipe from childhood. I actually grew to hate these things as a kid. It was something that was easy to make, so often became my job to prepare, and was something we ate a lot. Too much. I got sick of them. But, it has been about 20 yrs since I made them or ate them, so I thought I'd give them another try.

In the original recipe, we used canned chicken and cheese. I decided to grill my own marinated chicken breasts and add some broccoli as well as salt and pepper. I find a lot of the homecooked food I ate as a child lacked simple seasoning, and this was one of those. I think my updated version is much better. I call them chicken broccoli rolls. The family enjoyed helping make them and everyone said they would eat them again. Success!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our Fast Food Family

I have a friend of a friend whose kids really wanted a dog. The family decided to not watch t.v. for a year in order to earn the dog. Now, that's some dedication. Kind of makes me wonder if I make my kids work hard enough to earn things. But this family did it. No t.v. for a year. Then after they got the dog, they didn't really go back to t.v. much since they learned to live without it and didn't really miss it much.

So, that's the inspiration for our family make over. What could we give up for a year? Eating out. Now, let me explain the significance of this. Our family eats out far more than we eat in. Far more. We average less than one meal a week cooked at home. That's over 300 days per year eating out (many of those days include 2 meals out). Most of that is fast food. It's just a terrible habit. We say it's because we are busy, we both work full-time, we have kids, etc, etc, etc. All the same things everyone else has. Busy lives.

The crazy thing is I like to cook. I love to try new recipes, even make up my own recipes and my family likes my cooking. But, I never do it. Before I had kids, I thought I'd cook more once I had kids. Cause that's what families with children do. When we decided to be foster parents, I thought I'd be forced to cook more. I mean it's one thing to eat out with a family of 4, but a family of 6, that's expensive. When we decided to foster 2 teen boys, I thought for sure we would eat at home more. Really, what could be more costly than feeding teenage boys at restaurants all the time? But, we ate out just as much with them too.

So, 2011 is the year we kick the fast food habit. It's the year we place more value on the joy of cooking and eating real food than on convenience. It's the year our kids learn that eating out is a rare treat, that the family dinner invloves sharing and compromise and isn't about picking from a menu and special ordering.

It's going to be a huge change for us. I hope to share some great recipes and stories, but I expect some days we will survive on pb&j. It's not about becoming Martha, just the Martins, only better.