Hot Weather Recipe Round Up!

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I mentioned in the Weekly Meal Plan post yesterday that it’s going to be a hot one this week. Ugh.

That means lots of time swimming and lots of time at the YMCA enjoying their AC and doing fun activities- Big Kid just did the fitness orientation and he is excited to start exercising. Mostly he wants to take boxing classes with me on Saturdays.

All that activity requires good, healthy fuel, and I do not want to fire up the stove or oven when it’s over 90 outside.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes to serve when it’s hot outside!

As you can tell there are a lot of dessert recipes. Because, really, who doesn’t like dessert?

 

Talk Back: What do you cook when it’s hot?

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Pesto Chicken Bake

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That’s Basil, the key ingredient in Pesto

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a couple weeks, but with summer vacation and the kids needing to see me, talk to me, touch me every.moment.of.the.day….. I’ve been a little behind.

This is so easy, so tasty, and so cheesy. And it works with almost every dietary restriction:

If you are vegetarian but omit the chicken.

If you are Gluten-free, substitute GF pasta for what’s the recipe.

If you are vegan, use your favorite vegan “cheese”. And remember to check the pesto- sometimes commercially made pesto contains cheese!

Pesto Chicken Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Pesto (I Like Costco’s Pesto) If you want to make it yourself, I like this recipe.
  • 1 Box Farfalle Pasta. I like Banza– It’s made with chickpea flour and is high in protein.
  • 1 T. Butter or Olive Oil
  • 2 C. chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces. You can also use rotisserie chicken.
  • 2 c. cheese, divided- I like Italian Blend

 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a baking dish with spray release and set aside.
  3. Cook pasta per box directions, drain pasta and toss with butter/oil.
  4. Mix Pesto, pasta, cooked chicken and 1 cup of cheese together.
  5. Pour mixture into baking dish.
  6. Top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is bubbly and browned (approximately 20 minutes).
  8. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving with crusty bread and a green salad.

Serves 6-8 as a main dish or 8-10 as a side. This is a great dish for potlucks!

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Yum! 

Recipe: Chicken Tortellini Soup

00169.jpgAs promised last week, here is our new family favorite soup recipe. This soup came about after a shopping trip to Grocery Outlet. I discovered a bunch of cool looking ingredients I’ve not seen before. Notably, This Parmesan Brodo broth. It’s OMG so amazing. It adds what foodies call “Depth of Flavor”.

This soup is super quick and easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 c. onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1.5 c. celery, chopped (if you are like me and wonder why celery is so expensive, here’s the answer)
  • 1.5 c. carrots, chopped
  • 2 cartons Swansons Parmesan Brodo broth
  • 1 package Chicken and Mozzarella Tortellini
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, washed
  • 2 T. parsley (I used dehydrated, but if you’ve got it fresh, use it)
  • 1 T. Rosemary

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, melt butter, and add onions, celery, and carrots. Saute on low until onions are clear and soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and continue to cook on low, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add broth and herbs. Cook on low/medium for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add tortellini, and cook per package directions.
  5. Turn off the heat and toss in the spinach. It cooks super quick
  6. Serve soup with garlic bread.

Note: This soup isn’t vegetarian or gluten-free. If you need a gluten-free option, there is GF tortellini available.

One Roast Chicken, Three Meals!

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I love roast chicken and veg. It is one of my favorite meals to prepare and serve. It’s dead simple, it’s impressive, and there are always leftovers to repurpose.

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So many veggies!
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Compound Butter

 

 

The other night I made a roast chicken with veg and I had enough meat leftover that I was able to stretch the meat into three meals: Roast Chicken and Veg, Chicken soup (use the directions for using a rotisserie chicken), and chicken enchiladas (this recipe, but I added 1 cup shredded chicken).  Here is my fool-proof recipe for a tasty meal.

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Bock Bock Bock!

Roast Chicken, Veg, and Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, rinsed and plucked of any errant feathers. Remember to remove the bag of giblets
  • 1 stick of butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of each of the following: Rosemary, Shallot Pepper, Parsley
  • 2 cups of the following veggies, chopped into bite-size pieces: carrots, celery, zuchinni
  • 1 cup of the following veggies, chopped: onion (I used sweet yellow), shallots, red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 T. corn starch (this makes the recipe Gluten-Free)
  • 1/2 c. water or chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small dish, mix butter and Rosemary, Shallot Pepper, Parsley.
  2. Spread the butter mixture under the chicken’s skin. If there is any remaining, drop a dollop in the cavity and smear on the outside of the bird.
  3. Stuff the cavity with veggies, place chicken breast side down in a baking dish.
  4. Pour remaining veggies into the baking dish around chicken.
  5. Cover loosely with foil, and bake the chicken for 20 minutes per pound.
  6. About 20 minutes before the chicken is done, remove foil and finish cooking.
  7. Chicken is done when internal temp reaches 165 degrees (we have this meat thermometer)
  8. Remove the chicken from the oven, and allow to rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Remove chicken and veg from the pan and set aside.
  10. In a saucepan, heat the juice/pan drippings and 1/2 cup water or chicken broth.
  11. As the liquid comes to a boil, combine cornstarch and 1/2 c. cold water in a cup, whisk until lump free.
  12. As the liquid comes a rolling boil, slowly stir in water/cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat.

Serve the chicken, veggies, and gravy with mashed potatoes (or cauliflower).

There are no photos of after it came out of the oven. The locusts (aka the dinner guests) descended upon the chicken and carved it up.

Talk Back: What is your favorite meal to serve guests?

 

 

 

 

 

Family Recipe: Abasitas

I haven’t done a family recipe in a while. My mom made a batch of these recently and sent me home with a few.

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na na na na na na na na na- Bat Plate!

Turnovers, hand pies, pasties, kolaches, whatever you call them, I love them. Eating with your hands is done in almost every other culture on earth, but us westerners tend to frown on it.

 

My mom invented these rich, savory turnovers based on the flavors that I loved as a kid (and still love). It’s a pastry or yeast dough exterior, filled with cheese, chicken, breakfast sausage, and green chilis.

The batch she made last week used crescent dough that was rolled out. You may be able to see the remaining perforation in one of the photos.

In the past, I’ve used my pizza crust recipe (found here). It’s really up to you what kind of dough you use for exterior. Crescent dough is rich and buttery, and I think it works well for this recipe, so it’s what I’m going with. You can get the crescent dough in one large sheet if you want and cut it up, or, we used the regular rolls, and just did 2 crescents per hand pie.

Abasitas 

(Makes 16-20 depending on type of dough used)

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped up (You can also use 1.5 cups of chopped up rotisserie chicken meat)
  • 1/2 lb of Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage, cooked, crumbled, and drained of fat
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 4 oz. can Ortega Chilis, chopped 
  • 1 batch pizza dough (recipe linked above), or 4 tubes crescent roll dough

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix first five ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Roll out/unroll dough; Separate into 4 rectangles. Pinch together perforations to seal up.  If you are using another type of dough, roll out on a floured surface and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into approx. 8×5 rectangles.
  4. Place approx. 1/4c of filling in the middle of each piece of dough. Fold over, and seal edges of the dough by pinching edges together, you can also crimp the edges with a fork.
  5. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet (I always use parchment paper– it makes clean up easier) for approx 12-15 minutes until the dough is golden brown.
  6. Remove cookie sheets from the oven and allow hand pies to rest for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow to rest a few more minutes before devouring.
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Yummy cheesy filling!

I serve these with a green salad. They are good cold the next day too. They make a great picnic addition.

After they have cooled completely, store them in the fridge or the freezer. You can reheat them in the toaster oven!

They are a great food to batch cook.

Recipe: Homemade Chicken Soup!

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Yummy soup made with my favorite Seasoning Blend from Penzey’s

I love making chicken soup from scratch. The cook time is lengthy, but, you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to the soup for most of the cook time.

You can use whatever kind of spices/herbs you fancy. I love Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming, it’s a great smoky, rich compliment to the veggies in the soup.

Speaking of veggies, I use carrots, onions, celery, Italian squash/zucchini, but you can use whatever is in your fridge. Good additions would also be diced bell peppers, diced fresh tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes).

You can omit the noodles/macaroni is you don’t care for them or are GF/low carb.

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs of chicken parts, bone-in or a rotisserie chicken with some of the meat removed and set aside
  • 2 cups of carrots chopped, divided
  • 2 cups of celery chopped, divided
  • 3 cups sweet onion diced, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic diced, divided
  • 1 large shallot diced, divided
  • 1T. cooking oil, your choice. I’ve been using grapeseed oil lately
  • 12 cups of water
  • bay leaf
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups Italian squash/zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 14-ish ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice, or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (optional)
  • other herbs/spices as desired
  • 1 cup uncooked pasta/noodles/rice (your choice)
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After cooking all day! Yummy Chicken Stock!

Directions:

  1. If starting with 5 lbs of raw chicken, place 1/2 of the carrots, onions, and celery into a large stock pot with the cooking oil.
  2. Cook on medium until veggies are soft, and onions are clear.
  3. Add 1/2 of the garlic and shallots, and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add raw chicken, and cook for about 10 minutes, until chicken browns.
  5. Turn stove down to low, add 12 coups of water, bay leaf, salt & pepper, and cover. Cook stock on low for about 4-6 hours- you can cook it for up to 12 hours in your crockpot if you wish instead).  Pull out a few pieces of chicken, pull off the cooked meat and set aside (you want about 2 cups of chopped cooked meat). Put bones back into the pot. Cook for another 20-30 minutes.
  6. Take the stock off the heat, and once cool, strain off the solids, and discard. The remaining liquid is your chicken stock. While you start with 12 cups of water, after cooking the stock down, you may end up with 6-8 cups of rich, velvety stock.
  7. Place chicken stock on the stove in a large pot, add in chopped chicken, remaining veggies, and any herbs/spices.
  8. Once veggies have started to soften/cook, add noodles/macaroni/rice if desired. Salt and pepper to taste.
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Mire Poix- Aka carrots, celery, and onions with a bayleaf, garlic and shallots. The perfect start to any soup!

As soon as noodles/macaroni/rice is cooked, remove soup from heat. Serve with hot bread (and butter).

*If you are starting with a rotisserie chicken, pull off 2 cups of meat, and add the carcass after the veggies are cooked and fragrant. proceed with remainder of recipe.

Dinner Party Idea: DIY Ramen Potluck!

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We love to entertain. Dinner parties are a great way to have friends over to hang out and enjoy a good meal without breaking the budget.

We also love Ramen- not Top Ramen, but delicious, mouthwatering, tempting noodles, velvety broth, veggies, and soft boiled eggs. Doing a Ramen potluck is great way to try out new flavors that you may have never thought of.

In doing research for this article, I found out that there are so many ramen toppings and ingredients that I had never heard of (like corn, which you can see in the picture above). So some of the ingredients listed below may not make it into your potluck, but know that somewhere out there there is someone putting it on/in their ramen.

The host can provide the broth. As far as ramen broths, there are lots of options. I like Tonkatsu, which is pork and chicken based. Here is a great recipe.  Not interested in making it from scratch? You can buy Tonkatsu broth concentrate on Amazon.

If you are vegan, Ocean’s Halo makes a great seaweed based ramen broth. Miso is also a popular ramen soup base (Ocean’s Halo also makes great miso, pho, and veggie broth). We usually try to have two big pots of broth to choose from.

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 9.26.13 AM.pngAs far as noodles, you can get regular ramen noodles at any Asian grocery store (or most 99 Cents Only locations). I’m not talking about the kind that come in a little bag with a pouch of salty broth, those are fried so they cook super fast and aren’t really all that healthy.

I like the Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen from Lotus Foods. As a bonus these are gluten free and have protein in them. Our local Costco sells large packages, which is great for parties.

Some people like Soba noodles (thick buckwheat noodles), and some people like zoodles (the spiral cut zucchini “noodles”).

Now that you’ve got broth and noodles down, it’s time to get creative with toppings! Here are just a few ideas for guests to bring:

  • Eggs: I love a good soft-boiled egg on my ramen.
  • Scallions/green onions
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Seaweed/Nori sheets
  • Canned Bamboo shoots (they will need to be rinsed and probably sliced to made bite-sized.
  • Corn Kernels (defrosted frozen, fresh, or canned with no salt- drained and rinsed).
  • Mayu/Black Garlic Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Sauce
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Fish Sauce
  • Kimchi
  • Fried Tofu
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sliced fresh Jalapeños
  • Fried or pan steamed Gyoza
  • Roasted /braised slices of pork (fattier cuts of pork are great in ramen)
  • Cooked Shrimp (I can’t really give you any other suggestions on cooking/serving, I’m allergic to shellfish)
  • Fish Cakes (available at your local Asian Market)
  • Bok Choy
  • Mushrooms (Sliced shiitakes are nice, as are enoki)

And some people like rice as a side to their ramen. I prefer sticky rice, it’s easier to eat with chopsticks.

If you’ve got friends that don’t cook, don’t forget you’ll need chopsticks, bowls, spoons, and beverages.

Talk Back: What is your favorite type of Ramen?