Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another fear - conquered!

Roasting poblano peppers has always seemed way too dangerous to me (like the kitchen would catch fire or something tragic of the sort). I've finally conquered my fear, roasted those 3 peppers on the stove-top, and I feel great about it! I sadly wasted the peppers on a Chile Relleno Casserole that had no flavor, but who cares - I succeeded in fire-roasting peppers! WOO HOO! It didn't turn out to be hard/scary at all! Here's how I did it.
Fire Roasting Poblano Peppers
1. Turn your stove-top burner on HIGH heat.
2. Set your pepper on top.
3. Keep turning the pepper (with tongs) every 30-40 seconds until the whole thing is blackened and charred. (see picture below)
4. Place into a plastic bag to steam the peppers for 15 minutes (this allows the charred skin to peel off easily). 
 5. After 15 minutes take the peppers out of the plastic bag, place them on a cookie sheet (or plate, cutting-board, etc.) and peel off the charred skin either with your fingers or the back of a knife (I used both). They will look like this...
You can do so many things with roasted peppers it's unbelievable! You can make Chile Rellenos, a Chile Relleno Casserole, you can stuff them with numerous fillings (such as beans, beef, pork, rice, shrimp, etc.), make soup, Poblano Pepper & Cilantro rice, Enchiladas, Quesadillas... too many options to name!  Have fun experimenting!
- When the peppers are over the fire they will more than likely make crackling noises. Don't be alarmed, that is normal.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

From a FAIL to a WIN!

As you may know (or not, but anyways...) I'm on a mission to find a soup that I can say I truly love. I'm not a soup person, but since it's around the Holidays and weather is getting cooler, I want to warm up with some hot soup! I just made Slow Cooker Split Pea Sausage Soup and it's actually yummy! It has this subtle sweetness that I crave (probably from the smoked sausage) and it's nice and hearty! It tastes so healthy too! I'm still on the look-out for my faaavorite soup, but this recipe is surprisingly good enough to keep in my binder! The recipe calls for it to be cooked on HIGH for 4-5 hours, but since my husband wouldn't be home for 8 hours I decided to cook it on LOW for 8 hours. Well, FAIL. I opened the pot (after 7-and-a-half hours to check on it) to find hard peas! I guess they need the higher temperature to actually cook. I turned it on HIGH for another 90 minutes and it was then deliciously done! WIN! I think I'll actually end up making this again! :)
1 pound dried split peas
10 cups water (not shown in the picture)
1 pound smoked sausage of your choice, sliced (I used Hillshire Farm Beef Smoked Sausage)
5 cubes chicken bouillon
1 1/2 cups chopped carrot (2 carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 onion, chopped

1. In a 5 quart slow cooker, combine the peas, water, sausage, bouillon, carrot, celery, potatoes, garlic powder, oregano, bay leaves, and onion.
2. Cover, and cook on High for 4 to 5 hours. Remove bay leaves before ladling into bowls.
Serve with buttered french bread and enjoy!
- Like I said above, cook it on HIGH or the peas won't cook. Or I suppose if you have all day to kill then you can cook it on LOW for 7-and-a-half hours, then turn the setting to HIGH for an hour-and-a-half. Um... just stick to HIGH. :P
-It needed a little salt and pepper after I tasted it the first time, so just keep in mind to add some to your bowl (according to your taste preference).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It occured to me at dinner time...

The main reason I haven't been following my menu plan is because there's too many new recipes on it! That's intimidating to me and makes me end up not making it. I'm glad I realized that now though because now I can focus more on a menu based on stuff we love and already make a lot of! Maybe for now I'll start with 1 new recipe a week. For my December menu I will have a designated day (since I do themes) specifically for new recipes! Wow.. I feel better already! I know this is a learning process... lots of trial and error will happen... but see, I'm improving! :) Now I'm off to change my December Menu's weekly themes... (yet again).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Weekly menu 11/25 - 12/1

I'm aware that today is Friday (and I usually do my menu on Monday now), but I don't like the feeling of not having an accurate weekly menu posted. I don't know if it's because of the Holidays or what, but I've been so bad about my planning the last few days! Well, no, I spend hours planning, I just then don't stick to it! That's why I made this blog in the first place! So now that Thanksgiving is over and we're back into our normal daily routines, I have no excuses. I'm planning a menu and sticking to it! Also, I'm still doing the pantry challenge so I'm trying to mostly eat what's in the house!
For the week of  11/25 - 12/1
Friday - Garlic-Lime Tilapia, White Rice, Steamed Zucchini
Saturday - Spaghetti & Meatballs, Cheesy Garlic Bread, Salad
Sunday -Slow-Cooker Split-Pea Sausage Soup with Crusty Bread
Tuesday -Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Onion & Garlic Oven Potatoes, Salad
Wednesday -Cheesy Chicken & Salsa Skillet with Corn Bread
Thursday - Pesto-Pasta, Cheesy Garlic Bread, Salad

Garlic-Lime Tilapia

I'm pretty sure I have a new favorite meal! This meal is delicious and inexpensive! I bought a bag of frozen tilapia fillets from Safeway - 10 fillets for $10. So it's only $1 per fillet! SCORE! I'm in love! <3  
 Amy's Garlic-Lime Tilapia
Tilapia Fillets (as many as you need/want to cook)
Pats of butter (1 for each fillet)
Old Bay Seasoning
Garlic Powder
Lime Juice

Place the tilapia into the glass baking dish. Sprinkle with a little Old Bay, garlic powder and lime juice. Put 1 pat of butter on top of each piece of fish and place into the oven. Bake at 400° for 17 minutes.
Quick, simple, delicious... it's a win-win! Enjoy!
-Serve with white rice and steamed veggies for a perfect meal. :)

Thanksgiving Appetizers

Yesterday I made it one of our new traditions to have Thanksgiving Dinner-Day appetizers mostly made up of seafood! I served shrimp with cocktail sauce, and Triscuits with creamcheese, smoked salmon & green onions. They were delicious! Although, my husband ate so much all day that he barely had room for actual Thanksgiving dinner. :P
There's no instructions or anything... it's pretty self-explanatory... :)
I just wanted to give out some ideas for your own appetizers!
- The first plate I made of the crackers I put chives from our herb garden (instead of green onion). Unfortunately the chive plant is fairly new and didn't have much to take from it (good thing we always have green onion!). Both were equally delicious! You could even take an easier route and just use Chive & Onion Cream-cheese (I only had original cream-cheese yesterday).

Monday, November 21, 2011

McCormicks Chicken Noodle Soup

I'm not really a soup person, but since the Holiday's are coming around I'm trying to find one I actually really like. McCormick's Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup is okay... nothing special... but here it is... 
2 chicken breasts 
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped 
1 cup egg-noodles
5 cups of water
Place celery, carrots & onion (chopped into bite-size pieces) into the bottom of your slow-cooker. Add your 2 chicken breasts on top.
In a separate bowl combine 5 cups of water and the seasoning packet; whisk well and pour oven chicken & veggies. Put the lid on and cook on low for 8 hours. About 30 minutes before the 8 hours are up take out the chicken breast to shred.
Use 2 forks to shred the chicken and place the shredded chicken back into the pot. 
After you add the shredded chicken back into the soup add 1 cup of egg-noodles. Cook for the HIGH setting for at least a half-hour more so the noodles have time to soften. Enjoy!
I severed this with a warm french bread loaf that was just dough, and then I baked it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Meal Plan Monday 11/21 - 11/27

I normally post my menu every Wednesday (since that's when all the ads come out), but now that I'm doing The Pantry Challenge (trying to eat up what's in the house) I can now join Laura and all the other ladies at Meal Plan Monday! Gosh, I'm so giddy just thinking about it! I'm so obsessed with her website and I'm completely addicted (& passionate) about meal planning! I also spend hours a day just reading other blogs and printing out future recipes that I have to try! 

Weekly Menu for the week of 11/21/2011'
Monday - Beans, Cheese, & Spanish Rice Burritos w/ a side of chips and my Pico De Gallo 
Tuesday - Grilled Mushroom-Onion-Swiss Burgers & fries
Wednesday - Amy's Salsa Chicken Enchiladas w/ a side of sweet corn
Thursday - Happy Thanksgiving! We're having all the usual's! <3
Friday - Chicken and Black-Bean Stuffed Poblano Peppers w/ a side of Monday's left-over Spanish rice and chips w/ Pico De Gallo
Saturday - Crock-pot Teriyaki Chicken over white rice, Gyoza, and a side salad
Sunday - Minestrone Soup with Crusty Bread

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My pantryith has runnith overith...

There is so much food in this house, but with my obsession/addiction (to buying food) I'm still at the store at least once a day. It's definitely time to get this issue of mine under control.
I'm going to try my hardest to eventually get to the point of an actual shopping DAY of the week.
I've read a lot about people doing The Pantry Challenge and I've decided to join in!
I'm going to post my goals on the refrigerator to remind myself, but I'll also post the list here.
Maybe if someone is going through the same thing I am then I can inspire them somehow.
Maybe I'll get someone to start their own pantry-challenge one day?! That would be excellent :)
Observe... the refrigerator... 
The freezer....
And now... the pantry...

Amy's Pantry Challenge - Facts and Goals:
FACT: Every single day I go to the store and impulse-buy.
GOAL: Save money by making 1 large weekly trip, and 1 mini-trip in the middle of the week if we need a few necessities. By doing this, it will add up to a lot of money saved in the long-run (since I won't be able to indulge in a ridiculous amount of impulse buying anymore).

FACT: I'm a stay-at-home-mom and use way too much gas just going to the store daily.
GOAL: Save gas (which will save money) by not driving back and forth to the store everyday.

FACT: I hardly ever bake.
GOAL: Save money by baking/making some of my own bread items.
EXAMPLE: We eat a lot of  cheesy garlic bread with our dinners and it's around $3 a box! That is such a waste of money when you stop and calculate! Sometimes I make my own cheesy garlic bread (with just regular bread) but more times than not, I'm buying it! So I need to stop buying as much "pre-made" stuff.
         :One box of pre-made garlic bread is around $3.00 for 6 tiny pieces. That's .50 per slice!
         :One loaf of bread at Walmart is $1.00 for 24 slices. That's .4 per slice! HUGE difference!
(Wow... thinking about stuff like that sure opens my eyes to a new way of spending/living!)

FACT: The freezer and pantry are so full I can barely fit anything in them; yet I buy more daily.
GOAL: Eat up what we already have and stop buying more and more! (I blame the impulse buying! So if I'm not at the store  everyday then I can't do that anymore!)

FACT: My food budget is supposed to be $322.00 per month, but the money is gone before 1/2 that time (2 weeks) even passes!!
GOAL: Make $322.00 (for food/drink items) last the entire month! That's $80.50/week.
NOTE: That shouldn't be a struggle in the beginning because we have so much food already here!

FACT: I usually tend to shy away from Freezer-Cooking since I'm really picky about the taste of food.
GOAL: After my freezer gets about half empty I will start making at least 2 frugal freezer-meals each month to not only save money, but time too (since I'll have 3 kids under 3 years old by then).
NOTE: Frugal Freezer Meals to me mean big quantities of economic food that freeze well. That reminds me of the quote "Cook once, eat twice.". You can have the meal for dinner, put some in the fridge for lunch the next day, and then divide the rest into at least 3 separate freezer-baggies for future meals.
CALCULATIONS: That way if you spend around $6 on a huge pot of (for example) Chili and it turns out you got at least 6 big meals out of it, that's only $1 per meal to feed your whole family. For my family (of 4) that'd basically be a .25 dinner for each of us a few nights a month. Sounds pretty fantastic to me!!!!

FACT: Having this much food in my house overwhelms me, and it keeps getting worse.
GOAL: Make food with what we have! I could probably write about 3 monthly menus and not have to buy anything but milk/bread! Ofcourse that's not going to happen, but you know what I'm trying to say. I have to stop buying what I might be "craving" at the time, and just make what we have here! This reminds me of the post I made about eating what's on the menu even if I don't feel like it. Read it HERE is you're curious.
EXCEPTION: At least 3x a month it's important to me that we eat my 'famous' teriyaki salmon for dinner. Not only because it's healthy, but because it's one of our all-time favorites. I ONLY eat salmon fresh and have to cook it the very night I buy it. (meaning, I'll primarily eat up what we have here, but I still have to buy salmon since I only eat it fresh.)

FACT: Usually when I buy/open a bottle of sauce (like teriyaki sauce, BBQ sauce, etc.) then it just sits in the fridge until I have to throw it away (since it eventually expires). I love knowing I have all the choices to use, but (more times than not) it turns out to be money wasted.
GOAL: If I open a bottle of sauce and have left-over in the bottle then I need to put a meal on my monthly menu (or the next month's rough-draft menu/ideas) using the rest of the sauce instead of just forgetting about it! This will eliminate wasting.

FACT: We grow some vegetables in our backyard, and also have an herb garden!
GOAL: Use/Cook/Eat as many vegetables from the garden as possible! Also, use the herbs to make marinades, flavored butter, pesto, and just as a garnish for extra flavor to meals!

FACT: I keep having to re-take inventory of all the food in the kitchen (which is a huge tedious task!). I go to the store everyday and lose track of what I buy. I then feel over-whelmed that I have to do the whole inventory again and it makes me anxious!
GOAL: Don't forget to write down EVERY food item I bring into this house so I know exactly what we have to work with. My other goal is to re-organize the pantry. I know exactly where everything is and it's actually really organized to me! BUT, after I took a picture and saw it on the computer screen I realized it just looks chaotic since the food items are mixed in with other stuff/paper towels/cooking gadgets/etc. I want to bring all the edible stuff to the front of the pantry, and put everything else in 1 section (probably the back wall) of the pantry.
NOTE: Since I won't be going to the store daily anymore it shouldn't be that hard to keep the inventory from being too over-whelming. The less food coming into this house is the less I have to add to all my lists!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The good, the bad, & the cheesy.

Tonight I made my own version of Broccoli-Chicken Casserole from the girls over at Gooseberry Patch . My version differs from theirs, and although it was good, there are definitely changes I'd make for next time. First, let me post my recipe/directions for my version of the casserole. 

 Broccoli-Chicken Casserole

1 can Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 1/2 cans of Milk (using the empty soup can)
6 oz. Chicken stuffing mix
2 Celery stalks (which came to 1 1/2 cups)
6 Mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped
10 oz Frozen Broccoli (thawed)
2 Chicken Breasts, cooked and cubed (which came to 3 cups) 
16 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded 

 Whisk together mushroom soup and milk in a large mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients (except the cheese) and mix well. Pour into a 9x13 glass baking dish that has been lightly coated with cooking spray.
Bake (uncovered) in a preheated oven at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle on the cheese. 
Put it back into the oven for 5 minutes. Turn broil on HIGH and let the top get bubbly and brown (about another 5 minutes). Do not leave the oven since the browning process happens rather quickly. You don't want to burn the cheese, just deliciously brown it. :)
Take it out of the oven and serve immediately. I paired this with a fresh salad topped with a Balsamic Vinegarette and it was excellent!

- Next time I make a casserole like this I wouldn't add the celery - it just didn't taste right in there. The whole dish was also missing a little salt and pepper, so I'd add some while adding everything else. I'd probably add more stuffing since the actual recipe called for 16oz and I used 6oz. That's only because I assumed "16oz" was a typo (since 1 whole box of stuffing mix only said it was 6oz... I still say it has to be a typo). Also, I probably wouldn't add 1 whole pound of cheese to the top of this. I grated an entire 16oz block of cheese with my Salad Shooter and didn't feel like bagging the rest, so I dumped the whole bowl of cheese on top of the casserole. It was delicious, it wasn't necessary though. Next time (just to at least save money) I'll probably use half a pound of shredded cheese (instead of the whole pound). The whole casserole flavor was missing a little "zing" to it, so next time I'll probably add something like honey-mustard somewhere in the recipe. One more thing... the stuffing inside the casserole was really soggy so next time if I want some stuffing with this dish I'll just make some on the stove.

- For the chicken breast in this recipe I "butterflied" 2 chicken breasts and placed in a medium-size glass baking dish. I added a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, pepper, and Emeril's Essence. I baked it at 375° for 27 minutes and it was done (since I butterflied them into thinner pieces) and I let them cool a little while I prepped all the other stuff. I then cut the pieces into bite-size cubes. The 2 breasts came out to be 3 cups of cubed chicken; just what the recipe called for.

These glazed carrots...

I saw this recipe from a food blog I follow (and love!) called Mommy's Kitchen and they are delicious!!! I remember my Dad use to make sweet-carrots when I was a lot younger (like brown-sugar carrots) and these carrots just brought me back to my childhood. LOVE IT! I highly recommend these as a side dish, especially since the cinnamon/nutmeg combo tastes so... holiday-winterish! :) 
Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
1 - lb. fresh carrots cut into bite size pieces
4- tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
6 - tablespoons brown sugar
1 - teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 - teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 - teaspoon salt

Peel carrots and cut into bite-size pieces. 
Boil the carrots in a medium size pot of water for 10-15 minutes (just until tender). While that's happening, melt the butter over low heat in a sauce pan. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Simmer the mixture for a couple minutes (about 5 minutes). Add hot steamed carrots, stirring well to coat all the carrots evenly. 
 Remove when the carrots are shiny and well glazed and place in a serving dish or on a dinner plate. Perfect dinner side :) 

- I didn't know how many carrots would equal one pound so I just used 4 of them. For the amount of glaze the recipe made I should have added at least 2-3 more. Whole fresh carrots were on sale (3 lbs for .99!) so I bought those, but you can certainly use a 1 lb. bag of fresh baby carrots.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Weekly Menu 11/16/11

For the week starting 11/16/2011

Wednesday - Mushroom-Swiss Burgers, Home-Made French Fries, Green beans
Thursday - Stoufers Lasagna Italiano, Cheesy Garlic Bread, Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
Friday - Broccoli-Chicken Casserole, Salad
Saturday - Slow-Cooker Teriyaki Chicken over white rice, Gyoza, Steamed Asparagus 
Sunday - McCormick Chicken-Noodle Soup w/ crusty bread
Monday - Beans, Cheese & Spanish Rice Burritos
Tuesday - Grilled Burgers & French-Fries 

Monday, November 14, 2011

A FAIL, but an even bigger WIN!

Today was supposed to be my first Meatless Monday post, but there was steak in the refrigerator and I didn't want it to go bad (so I really had no choice). That's a total Meatless Monday FAIL. The good news though is that I have officially conquered my George Foreman Grill fear and I feel great about it! My first time using it a few months ago was horrible. I bought steak at Walmart and used it on the "Sell By..." date, but even though it should have still been good/edible it made my entire house smell like burnt sour fish! EEEEW. I literally was so traumatized that I haven't been able to touch the grill since! But tonight I have conquered my fear - and with steak from Walmart none-the-less! I feel fantastic! It turned out great! I can't wait to cook more stuff on the grill now! Since I still had left-over stuff from when I made my Baha Fish Tacos a couple nights ago I decided to make steak tacos for dinner tonight. Here's what I did...
Steak Tacos
3 pieces of thin-cut steak
Corn Tortillas 

Steak Marinade: 
2 TBS Grill Mates Steak Rub 
A dash of Cumin
3/4 cup (or more) Olive Oil

Optional Toppings:
Shredded cabbage
Mexican 4 cheese blend 
Sour cream
Lime wedges (for the juice)

1. Mix 2 TBS of steak rub with about 3/4 cup olive oil. Add in a dash of cumin and mix well. Pour into a glass baking dish and place the steak into the baking dish also. Flip the steaks a few times to make sure each steak is fully covered in the marinade. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (preferably more - you'll get better flavor). 
 2. Grill until it looks done. The thin-cut steaks don't even take 10 minutes on the GF-grill so keep an eye on them. I'd say more like 6-7 minutes.  
3. When steak is finished transfer to a plate and cut into thin strips and add a little salt and pepper. Lay out all the toppings and assemble as you wish!
The Pico De Gallo and Chipotle Sauce recipes are in my Baha Fish Taco post which you can find *HERE*.

-I prefer yellow corn tortillas but I only had white corn at the moment. 
- I had shredded cabbage left-over from the fish tacos but it's just as delish to use lettuce instead of cabbage.

Amy's Teriyaki Salmon

I've been obsessed with teriyaki salmon ever since 2001' when my best friends mom introduced me to it! She showed me what she did to make it and then I kept experimenting throughout the years. There's no real recipe, but I make it the same way everytime and I still have to eat this at least once a week. It's one of my ALL-TIME favorite dinners EVER!
Amy's Teriyaki Salmon
White Sugar
Soy Sauce 
White Vinegar 
Garlic Powder

1. In a glass baking dish (that will fit your salmon) add about half a cup of sugar and then pour in soy sauce till you get to about half-an-inch up the baking dish. Add a splash of vinegar (about 2 tablespoons) and stir with a fork. 
2. Sprinkle garlic powder on top  of your salmon and add your salmon filet flesh-side down into the baking dish. 
3. Bake in a preheated oven at 425° for 10 minutes. Take the salmon out, flip it over (so it will then be flesh-side-up) and put it back into the oven for about another 10 minutes (depending on how well done you like it). 
4. When finished baking, take it out of the baking dish and flip it over on a plate to expose the skin. Remove the skin and the gross brown stuff that is directly underneath the skin (YUCK) and then flip it back over to serve. Drizzle some of the teriyaki sauce from the baking dish over the salmon and serve. 

-I've NEVER eaten salmon (or any fish for that matter) without a side of white rice, so you should have it to! :) It's perfection. Oh yeah, and don't forget your side of veggies! We always have it with either boiled asparagus or broccoli.
- My measurements are approximate. Don't be intimidated to just try it and then tweak the recipe next time if you want it sweeter/saltier/etc.
- Feel free to add other stuff too such as fresh minced ginger root (or even powdered ginger).  
- In the picture there's butter on my rice. It's amazingly delicious! 

Curried Lentil Soup

 I made so much food yesterday it was ridiculous! I didn't even have a chance to try my curried lentil soup! I just made this bowl after it was finished in the slow-cooker so I could take a picture of it. I'm planning on having it for lunch today so I hope it's yummy. It sure does smell yummy! Plus it's super healthy packed with vegetables and of course, lentils (which are very good for you)! 
Curried Lentil Soup
2 1/2 cups dried lentils, sorted & rinsed
8 cups of water
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 vegetable bouillon cubes, OR 2 chicken bouillon cubes
3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1. In a 5-6 quart slow-cooker combine all ingredients except tomatoes, spinach & yogurt; Mix well.
2. Cover; cook on low 8-9 hours.
3. About 15 minutes before serving stir in tomatoes, and take out the 2 bay leaves. Spoon into a bowl and top with spinach and yogurt.

- I topped it with a little spinach but skipped the yogurt.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh how I love sushi :)

I always make sushi because it's just so delicious (not to mention expensive to buy). Here's my recipe so you can try it too!
California Roll
2-4 cups Medium Grain Cooked White Rice
1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar (or more)
1 pack Nori (dried seaweed sheets) 
1/2 lb. Alaskan Crab Legs 
2 Ripe Avocados, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Cucumbers, seeded and thinly sliced (matchstick-like)
Toasted sesame seeds
a bowl of water (to wet your fingers before grabbing the rice)
1 bamboo mat covered tightly in saran wrap (to roll your sushi)
 1. Prepare your rice in the rice cooker or on the stove (according to the directions on the package). Spoon the rice into a large baking dish to cool. When cool to the touch, pour at least 1/2 a cup of rice vinegar all over the the rice; mix well. Taste the rice to see if it needs more. You'd be surprised how much it needs. I never measure it - I just go by taste. 
 2. Place 1 sheet of seaweed (rough-side up) on your saran-wrap-covered bamboo mat and cover with rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
3. Flip the seaweed sheet over so the rice is now touching the bamboo mat.  Place your cucumber, avocado slices and crab along the bottom (as pictured).
4. Roll the bottom of the seaweed (using the mat) over the filling while tucking under so it should look like this...
5. Continue rolling (pressing tightly) until the roll forms. It will look like this...
6. You now have your own sushi roll! Slice with a knife dipped in water (to prevent the rice from sticking to much) and you should have something that looks delicious - like this! 
p.s.- Don't cut the pieces as big as I cut this piece (unless you want to)! I just wanted to show you what the inside should look like. :)

- The crab legs I use are the Alaskan Crab legs from the fish counter at Safeway. They are my fave!! Delicious!!!
- I put 2 cups of dry white rice into my rice cooker and 4 cups of water. I wasn't sure in the ingredients if I should put 2 cups, or 4 cups of rice (since it doubles I think?).  
- You can make sushi a thousand different ways, this is just how I make mine and I'm completely addicted! Feel free to add/change stuff and just use this as a guideline. I also made Kappamaki which are just cucumber rolls (because my husband likes them). Simple, yet refreshing!
- These are best when they are freshly made so don't make them a day in advance if you're trying to impress anyone! The rice will get hard and fall apart. No bueno....
- The green bowl of water above the bamboo mat has water in it. The rice will be sticky and wetting your fingers/hands before gabbing a handful of sticky rice will help prevent it sticking too much to your hands. After you put the rice on your seaweed, spread it out with your wet finger tips. If your finger tips aren't wet then the rice will just stick to your fingers (and not the seaweed).
- Serve with soy sauce and Enjoy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A fave in our house

French's Crunchy Onion Chicken is definitely a favorite in this house! My husband usually leaves a little food on his plate every-night, but not with this recipe! It's his #1 favorite chicken dish that I make and he can't get enough! I love it too because I love anything with onion, and the tang of the honey-mustard is so delicious! Oh yeah, it's super simple too! It's totally a win-win! I highly suggest you try it! My version is a lot easier too. :)
Crunchy Onion Chicken
Chicken Breasts (as many as you need/want to make)
French's Honey-Mustard
French's Fried Onions
Salt and Pepper

1. If your chicken breasts are really thick then cut them in half horizontally (like you're opening a book). This isn't necessary, but I don't like when chicken breasts are too thick. Then you taste more "plain chicken" taste than actual seasoning! I know, I'm picky. :P
2. Lay your chicken breasts on a cookie sheet lined with foil; salt and pepper the top side.
3. Squirt some honey mustard on each breast and rub it all around the top with a spoon (or your fingers, but using the back of a spoon is a lot less messy of course). Just put enough to coat the top of each chicken.
4. Grab some french fried onions and crush them up a little in the palm of your hand; sprinkle onto the top of the breasts (so the onions stick to the honey-mustard) and continue until all the breasts have the whole top coated.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 425° for 20 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chicken).

Now how easy was that?! No measuring was even involved! I always serve this dish with Alexia's Olive Oil, Parmesan & Roasted Garlic Oven Reds (I get a bag at Walmart for cheaper than anywhere else), and green beans. The white blob on the plate is just sour cream to dip my potatoes in (it's good, I swear!)

Amy's Baha Fish Tacos

I'm well aware that tonight was supposed to be Teriyaki Salmon night, but when I went to Safeway all I saw were thin weird-looking pieces. I decided to get some cod instead (since I've been craving fish tacos for months). I knew I was going to make these tacos sooner or later so I've been scouring the internet to find a yummy recipe for weeks now! I found a few that sounded delicious and then made up my own recipe based on all that I found. They are amazing! Definitely a keeper for cookbook!
Amy's Baha Fish Tacos
1 large Cod fillet, cut into 2 inch pieces
3/4 cup beer
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Combine flour, salt and your favorite beer; stir until smooth. Batter will have the consistency of pancake batter. Add fish pieces to flour mixture. Coat thoroughly. Heat canola oil in a tall-sided heavy pot/pan over medium-high heat. Slowly add battered fish to oil and fry 3-6 minutes total. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt if desired.

-I don't drink beer so I have no preference in brand. I found a can of "Coors" beer for .75 (reduced for quick sale) so I bought that one. The tacos turns out superb!
- I put to sprinkle with salt "if desired" because the batter itself has a good amount of salt-taste to it. Just taste the first piece of fish that is done frying and then determine if you'd like to add more salt.

And of course you can't have fish tacos without Pico De Gallo!
Amy's Pico De Gallo
4 Roma tomatoes
half of a red onion
1 handful of fresh cilantro
1 lime
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Roughly slice the tomato and place into a food processor. Pulse until it's still chunky. Pour into a small bowl.
2. Roughly slice your onion and place into the food processor. Pulse until it's diced small. Add the onion into the bowl with tomatoes and sprinkle in some
salt and pepper (about 4-5 shakes of each). Stir to combine. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the bowl and mix well.
3. Grab a bunch of fresh cilantro (a handful) and place into the food processor. Drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil in (1 teaspoon or so) and pulse until the cilantro is finely chopped. Pour into the tomato/onion bowl and stir everything to combine.

- Taste the Pico De Gallo when you finish step 3 to see if it needs more salt and/or pepper.
- Many Pico De Gallo recipes call for jalapeno but since I don't like heat I didn't put any. You can certainly put some - just dice it small. The amount to add just depends on your heat tolerance. 

Don't forget the sauce!
Amy's Chipotle Sauce
Sour cream
Taco Bell's Bold & Creamy Chipotle Sauce
The juice of half a lime

1. Put sour cream into a bowl and squirt some of the chipotle sauce into it. Mix.
2. Squirt your lime juice in it and mix again.

-The amounts just depends on taste. I don't really like too much flavor so I put a lot more sour cream than the chipotle sauce. 
Assemble your fish tacos:
Microwave your corn tortillas for a few seconds so they will be more flexible and less-likely to tear apart. Spoon on some chipotle sauce and add your fried fish on top. Add a little more chipotle sauce on top of the fish and garnish with Pico De Gallo, sliced avocado and thinly shredded cabbage. Serve with quartered lime pieces (to sprinkle the juice on top of each taco).
Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Weekly Menu 11/09/11

For the week starting 11/9/2011
Wednesday -  Chow-mein and Pork Egg-rolls
Thursday - Costco's Spinach and Cheese Ravioli in Buitoni Alfredo Sauce, Cheesy Garlic Bread & Steamed Asparagus
Friday - Crunchy Onion Chicken, Parmesan Garlic Herb Red Potatoes, Green Beans
Saturday - Baked Teriyaki Salmon, White Rice, Salad
Sunday - Curried Lentil Soup with Crusty Bread
Monday - Mexican Pizza's (with refried beans; no beef for Meatless Monday! Yeah!)
Tuesday - Tater-Tot Bake with a big fresh salad


Good Chinese food really does take a lot of skill, practice and patience! I never knew how hard it was to be able to get the taste's right! I tried my hand at Chow-Mein and it was alright - I've definitely had better. Someone please, tell me what's missing! I want to succeed! Although I must say - it was pretty good for my first attempt!
10 oz Steamed Chowmein Noodles
2 Chicken Breasts
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrot
8 oz. bean sprouts
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS oyster sauce 
1/2 tsp sugar 
2 TBS water 
2 TBS cooking oil
2 stalks of scallions (cut into 1 1/2 inch length)
Salt to taste

Chicken Marinade:
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp Shao Hsing cooking wine
1 tsp corn starch
2 TBS water

1. Cut chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and marinate (in the "Chicken Marinade") for at least 15 minutes.
2. Soak the Chowmein noodles in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water (to remove excess starch). Set aside. 
3. In a small mixing bowl combine soy sauce and oyster sauce; stir and set aside.
4. Heat up the wok with the cooking oil. Add in the chopped garlic and stir-fry until light brown or aromatic. Add the chicken and cook until it's almost cooked through. Add the shredded cabbage and carrot into the wok and do a few quick stirs. Add the noodles, the soy/oyster sauce mixture and the water. Continue to stir until the noodles are well blended with the seasonings and completely cooked through. Add the chopped scallions and bean sprouts, do a few final stirs, dish out and serve hot. 
**NOTES: It was bland this way... so I added more soy sauce. It then became just a little too salty so I added a few shakes of sugar. It didn't taste quite right so I added a few shakes of ground ginger (hoping I can save this dish somehow). All-in-all it was alright... I'm still on the lookout for a good chow-mein recipe! Like I said though, this was my first attempt, and practice makes perfect. :)

Black Bean Chili

My husband came home from work a few days ago saying someone brought in some amazing black bean chili! He asked her for the recipe so I could make it again for him. She sent the recipe online and I had to talk to her... 1/4 cup of chili powder? That's got to be a joke (or at least a humorous mistake). To my surprise, it really is 1/4 cup chili powder in there! She said she didn't put quite as much as that though. So I made it how she said she made it and still... holy chili powder! I took one bite of that chili and had spit it out (dramatically, I might add). It was like an explosion in my mouth - of pure chili powder! 
 YUCK. My husband said it was good, but it was missing something. I suggested that if I made it again I'd put some corn in it or something. DING! He said "Oh yeah! That's what's missing! She put corn in it too!" So I heated up some corn in the microwave (since I had already served up the chili) and then we poured some into our bowls.
I didn't have the guts put anymore into my mouth... I just can't believe how much chili powder this recipe has. I won't be making this recipe again, but for anyone who loves chili powder I highly suggest this recipe! 
Quick Black Bean Chili
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
16 oz. cooked, rinsed black beans
8 oz. diced fire roasted tomatoes (I used the can with garlic in it too)
1/4 cup chili powder (but you should put way less)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano 
8 oz. corn
Optional for garnish: 2-3 TBS chopped fresh cilantro leaves and/or a squeeze of lime juice

Over medium-high heat saute' onion until most is significantly brown. Add a thin layer of water and quickly stir the onion. Let onion sit and water evaporate. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic; saute' 1 minute. Add the black beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and oregano; mix everything together well. Simmer for atleast 5 minutes. 
Optional: Add the cilantro and/or lime juice immediately after the chili comes off the heat and stir.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Meatless Monday is officially a GO!

My husband agreed that we should hop on board the "Meatless Monday" train, so it's official! Each Monday night I'm going to make a special post about our meatless menu. Even though it'll be hard to stick with, I'm so excited about it! I thought "Meatless Monday" was just some cute rhyming dinner theme that people put on their weekly menus; I had no idea it was a whole movement! If you haven't heard about it, or want to learn more about it, please visit and sign the pledge!
Recipe Resources:
- On I found this Vegetarian Edition "Twenty for Twenty". It's where you stock up on 20 ingredients, and then you can make these 20 recipes with the 20 ingredients! This will come in handy for me to get new vegetarian recipes (since I don't think I even have any!).
- On there is an entire Vegetarian Meal Plan for an entire month. Breakfast, lunch, snack, aaand dinner! :)

Crab Rangoon

We never go to Panda Express anymore, but when we did we sometimes would get a couple Crab Rangoon. They were super yummy! I decided to make my own since I have a lot of packages of wonton skins. (I kind of went overboard in the Asian Market) Here's my recipe - my husband loved them! 

4 oz softened Philadelphia Cream Cheese 
2 sticks imitation crab meat, minced ( I always get the ones from the fish counter at Safeway)
1 scallion, diced 
1 small cup of water (to seal wontons)

1. In a bowl, combine minced crab meat and diced scallions into softened cream cheese. Mix well. 
2. Place a tablespoon of the mixture in the center of a wonton skin.
3. Wet your finger tip and run it along the whole perimeter of the wonton. 
4.Fold wonton over to create a diamond shape. Pinch it tight so there are no openings.
5. Fry in peanut oil around 375° until golden brown. 
6. Transfer to a plate lined with paper-towel to drain excess oil. 
Enjoy! :)

Curried Chicken Salad

Over a year ago at the grocery store they were giving out samples of curried chicken salad. I was skeptical when I saw grapes in it but I decided to be adventurous and give it a try. I instantly fell in love! I've been meaning to recreate it this entire time and I've finally tried a recipe for it! I think there's a little too much mayonnaise and a little too much curry flavor, but this is actually good! I'm still looking for the perfect recipe, but this is good in the mean time!
3 cups diced cooked chicken breast 
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup seedless grapes, halved
1 cup mayonnaise
2 TBS mined red onion
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
1/2 tsp curry powder 
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl combine chicken, celery, and grapes. 

2. Prepare the dressing in a small  bowl by whisking together mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, curry, and salt and pepper. Pour over chicken mixture and mix well. 
Here is what the finished product should look like. You can spoon it over lettuce and have a salad or lettuce wraps. You can also stuff it in a pita pocket with lettuce. I put it in a bakery roll with romaine lettuce and it was yummy! I love the grapes in it! Great combination. :) 

- I roasted a whole chicken last night and used the meat for this chicken salad, but you can buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to make life easier. To make life even a little more easier you can also buy the bag of Tyson's pre-cooked/cubed chicken. 
- I put 9 shakes of salt, and 9 shakes of pepper (out of my shakers). 
- IMO there's a little too much mayo (which normally isn't a sentence in my vocab), and a little too much curry. Next time I'd add a little more minced red onion too because I love onion a lot!