Monday, November 23, 2009

From leftovers to "none will be leftover!".

Here come the time of year where we have so many huge meals that we often wonder how we'll eat all the leftovers. Well, here is a way to eat leftover ham: make fake (and easy) chicken cordon blue!

Here we go:

Kid friendly, fairly healthy, fake Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut to have a pocket in the center
1/2 bulb fennel (you could use onion if you didn't have fresh fennel handy)
2 garlic cloves
2-3 slices leftover ham
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2-4 ounces lowfat ricotta cheese
1 egg, 1 egg white- whipped
3/4 cup breadcrumbs (our favorite are EnerG's gluten free bread crumbs)
1/4 cup ground flax (you can sub this for more breadcrumbs if you don't have it, but hopefully if you read my blog I've convinced you to keep them in your fridge by now!)

Preheat oven to 375. Chop fennel and garlic, sautee in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Cube leftover ham, add to bowl with ricotta. Sprinkle with pepper and thyme. Add fennel mixture.

Stuff chicken with ricotta mixture, roll in egg, and then bread with breading mix. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The veggie that ALWAYS requires seconds!

I have found the key. The key to yumminess, that is! Dusty, Skyler and I always want seconds of this dish. There is no such thing as "leftover" kale and pancetta. Alex...well, he's been in a not eating phase since I started making it, so no word on his opinion.

Kale & Pancetta

1 bunch fresh cale, chopped in 1" pieces
1 package cubed pancetta
1 leek or onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, slivered
olive oil
freshly grated pepper

Sautee garlic, pepper and leek in olive oil at medium heat for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic! Add pancetta and cook 3-5 more minutes.

Add kale, sprinkle with more olive oil and cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes.

Remove lid and cook for 2-3 more minutes while stirring frequently.

Skyler just called to me from bed and said "MOOOOOM, I'm still hungry even after dinner. Thinking he was trying to scam some ice cream (which he had on the way down the mountain after a day of snowboarding), I asked what he wanted. Imagine my delight when he asked if we had any kale left!

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Christmas goal: $100 for the boys!

So here is my Christmas goal this year: Spend $100 on the boys, for presents from Dusty and I. Both of them- so, $50 each. This doesn't include "Santa gifts", which will vary depending on what they need and how work goes.

I've gotta say...I am kicking butt! Here is the breakdown:

$100 total
-$30 for Crocs. Each boy got 1 pair of Crocs that came with 3 decorative charms, from KidSteals.
-$20 for Wii games. They were buy 2, get 1 free at Target. When Sky saved up his money to buy a game, I offered to pay while he played. Then I picked up 2 games, each $20, got one free- and scored 2 for $20. Sky wasn't any the wiser, as the salesman packaged them separately and Sky didn't check the receipt.
-$13 for PJ's. The Disney Store online today is selling kid's pajama's for $5 each, with $2.95 shipping. Both of the boys get Power Ranger PJs, and I only spent $13!

So there we have it! I've got $37 left and the boys each have 3 awesome presents. Woo hoo! This Christmas, I'm bargain shopping and getting creative.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

So much fun!

Dusty and I had such a great time last night. I threw him what SHOULD have been a surprise party. When the day before, he was getting mad because he knew I was hiding something, I wound up spilling the beans in the interest of having my husband speak to me. As it turned out, that was just fine. Surprise or not, it was amazing seeing so many friends and just getting to let loose!

I made an appetizer which is now going on my list of sure-fire things to make. It doesn't have a name...maybe I'll call them parmesan stacks? Yeah, that sounds good. So here goes:

Parmesan Stacks
1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan
freshly ground pepper
2-3 tomatoes
olive oil
1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
1 package prosciutto

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On an oiled baking pan, place 1/4 inch thick tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly grated pepper.

On a broiling rack, lay prosciutto out after spraying the pan with cooking spray. Put in the oven for 7--9 minutes, until prosciutto is crisp.

Reduce heat to 400 degrees. On an oiled cookie sheet, make little piles of freshly grated parmesan (about the size of a silver dollar). Sprinkles the piles with a little salt, pepper and paprika. Bake for 3-5 minutes- until melted and browned. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.

After tomatoes have cooled, cut into quarters and lay on a plate lined with paper towels. Pat the excess oil and moisture from the tomatoes.

Put cooled parmesan crisps on serving platter. Stack with tomatoes, then chopped fresh parley, and finally the crisp prosciutto. Yum-O!

This got great reviews at my party last night and is now a staple on my go-to list!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Best. Chili. Ever!

I can't take credit for this recipe. It came my way via Ashley, who's new in-laws make some great chili. When I decided to make it for Dusty's birthday, though (27! We're both in our "late 20's"- AHH!), I decided to change up a few things. So this is what I wound up with:

1 lb. low sodium bacon, baked and chopped
2 Tbsp. bacon grease
1 leek, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 lb. stew beef (or chicken), cubed
2 lb. ground turkey
salt, pepper or Lowry's seasoning salt to taste
2 cans chili beans in chili sauce
2 cans low sodium, fat free black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
5 cans italian stewed tomatoes- 3 pureed, 2 as is
1 tsp. sugar
1-2 tsp. chili powder
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup beef broth
1 cup hot water
hot sauce, to taste (I only used 4-5 drops)

Serving suggestion:
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
2 oz. gruyere cheese, shredded
Creme fraiche

Sear stew meat at high heat in skillet for 2-3 minutes per side with a small amount of olive oil; set aside. Brown ground beef in stew pot with a small portion of the leek and 1 clove garlic. Drain fat. Add in remaining garlic an leek, cook 2-3 minutes at medium high heat. Add in stew meat, salt, pepper, and seasoning salt. Cook until stew meat it cooked through.

Drain all beans except chili beans. Pour chili beans, sauce included, into ground turkey mixture. Add tomatoes, bacon, bacon grease, sugar, chili powder, cumin, beef broth, water and hot sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn down heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours.

Top with a mix of cheddar and gruyere cheese and a spoonful of creme fraiche.

Yummy, yummy, yummy! Not exactly healthy, but this stuff tastes fantastic!

Just a note: This makes a LOT of chili! It is great for a big group or party, or to freeze part of it. If you're making it with the intent of a small family dinner only, you can get away with halving the recipe!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yummy gluten free pumpkin brownies!

Have you tried Trader Joe's gluten free brownie mix? It is YUMMY! But it tends to fall apart and be really hard to cut, so I doctored it up a bit. I added a 16 oz. can of pumpkin (I could have roasted and pureed an actual pumpkin, but I was in a hurry!), cut the water called for down to just under 1/4 cup. Threw in some nutmeg, cinnamon and about 1/4 cup of baker's sugar and used 2 eggs instead of one. The other ingredients (mix, oil, etc.), I used according to the package.

Then I baked them at the heat recommended for about 35-40 minutes, and wound up with amazing cake-like pumpkin brownies. A yummy gluten free treat- that you'd NEVER know was gluten free!

Honestly- you HAVE to try this if you're lucky enough to have a TJ's near you!

Alex's world came crashing down!

This morning at 6:30, Alex came in to our room crying. Literally, sobbing uncontrollably. After a few minutes (and the abrupt awakening of Dusty and I), we managed to calm him down enough for him to squeeze a few words out. Those words?

"My....(sniffle)....candy....(sob)!...(back to uncontrollable sobbing)"

Haha. Well, at least I know he is my kid!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rules of the kitchen (according to me).

I posted these on a message board, but then I figured they'd do well on here, too. So here they are- the rules of good eatin' according to yours truly:

Thou shalt not eat fried food for dinner more than once a week. (And when you do, it should be pan fried in olive oil)

Thou shalt eat fish at least once a week (preferably non-farmed, high in Omega 3s and low in mercury)

Thou shall eat beef only once a week (and should consider pork a red meat also, so eat that sparingly as well)

Thou shall limit pasta based meals to twice a week (because believe me, without this rule I'd eat it every day!)

Though shalt eat plenty of veggies! (Ok, the rule for ME is to use up my veggie bin every week before a new one arrives)

This is what I attempt to stick to, in order to keep us healthy and happy and all that good stuff!

Buzz Lighyear and Optimus Prime score some candy!

And another Halloween has come and gone. The sugar highs, however, remain. What sugar high, you ask? Well, the one brought on by a 3 year old who discovered the magic of Fun Dip at 6:30AM and a 6 year old who was generously given a normal sized bag of M&Ms.

Yes- I let them eat all the candy they want until it is gone. My hope is that they'll eat it all by 10AM on Nov. 1st, leaving them so sick from sugar consumption that they swear the stuff off for awhile. Or at the very least, I hope they will crash from massive sugar highs and take a nap by mid afternoon.

Alex was Buzz Lightyear, complete with inflatable wings. He was so cute! It amazed me how much his costume actually looked like the cartoon. The wings were a hit! His wing span was about as wide as he is tall, which provided a few obvious complications while trying to walk to and from doors with large groups of children. However, they DID provide a major bonus- If Alex got in front of Skyler, he couldn't get around the wings to ring the doorbell or get the first candy pic. He figured this out quickly and used it for the rest of the night! We all laughed hard when a little boy, convinced Alex really was Buzz (apparently the boy wasn't bothered by the mere fact that "Buzz" was only 3 feet tall), poked the button on Alex's chest, expecting him to do a trick!

Skyler was Optimus Prime. He is still Optimus Prime, actually- the costume went back on at 7AM this morning. Skyler was so excited to walk in and see BumbleBee at our church's party. They played together, saving the world! After trick or treating, Skyler kindly offered me 1/2 of every tootsie roll and a bite of any candy he deemed yummy. What a sweet guy!

So there it is. The Halloween 2009 wrap up. It was a great night! Skyler already has plans for next year's costumes. He wan't to be ObiWan, Alex can be Anakin, Georgia was chosen to be Yoda, and Dillon was assigned Darth Vader. No word yet on who gets to be Jabba The Hutt. :-)