Saturday, August 28, 2010

Warm Ham 'n' Swiss Wraps

These are good for a casual weekend lunch/dinner. Instead of putting them in the oven I put the cheese on the tortilla and melt it in the microwave. Since I never have Swiss cheese around I just use mozzarella.

6 flour tortillas
1 lb thinly sliced deli ham
2 cups (8 oz) shredded swiss cheese (can sub. Mozzarella)
3 cups chopped lettuce
1 med. tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 cup diced cucumber
2 T. chopped green pepper
2 green onions, chopped

3/4 c mayonnaise
3 T. milk
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp celery seed

On each tortilla, layer four slices of ham and 1/3 cup cheese; roll up and secure with toothpicks. Place in an ungreased 11x7 baking pan. Cover and bake at 350 for 14-16 min or until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, combine the lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green pepper and onions. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Unroll tortillas halfway; top each with 1/3 cup lettuce mixture and 1 T. dressing. Roll up again; serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How I Organize My Meals

In case you missed the very first post. This is how I organize dinner. I have an index card that is divided into 4 columns. Each column is for one week of the month. Under each week I have 4-6 dinners listed. I have approx. 30 meals and I can plan what we're having for the whole month . I only have to make (and the family eats) each dinner once a month. Fridays & Saturdays are leftovers/grilled cheese/homemade pizza. Sunday evening is breakfast for dinner-pancakes/waffles, fruit, scrambled eggs, etc . Some days are busier than others so I put the dinners that are the quickest to throw together on those days. The menu lists for each week are in older posts. I'm always looking for a new recipe to try and if we really like it I try to work it in to the rotation for some variety.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Herbed Roast Chicken

This is from Cook's Illustrated. It's a long one, with a little extra work, but well worth it. The recipe says it serves 3-4, but it feeds my family of six. Just depends on what type of "eaters" you have.

1 whole chicken (about 5 pounds), trimmed of excess fat, giblets discarded (see note)
1/2 cup table salt plus 1/4 teaspoon
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves , lightly packed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (see note)
6 medium scallions , green parts sliced thin (about 2/3 cup), whites reserved for another use
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
Ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 - 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon (I only use about 1/2 teaspoon)


1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Following illustrations below, butterfly chicken and flatten breastbone. (to butterfly a chicken, use a pair of sharp kitchen shears and cut the backbone out so that the chicken will lay flat; then using the heel of your hand push down on the breast bone to help it lay flat) Tuck wings behind back. Using sharp knife, lightly score skin of thighs and legs, making 2 shallow cuts on each part about 1/8 inch into meat and about 3/4 inch apart. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container to make the brine. Submerge chicken in brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Place tarragon, thyme, scallions, garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on cutting board; mince to fine paste. Transfer herb paste to medium bowl and add butter. Using fork or stiff rubber spatula, mix until combined. Transfer 2 tablespoons herb butter to small bowl and refrigerate; set aside remainder at room temperature.

3. Remove chicken from brine and rinse under cold running water; pat dry with paper towels. Following illustrations below and using fingers, carefully separate skin from each side of breast to form pocket. Place 1 tablespoon softened herb butter in each pocket. Using spoon or fingers, spread butter over breast meat. Season skin with pepper.

4. Heat oil in oven safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place chicken skin-side down in skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast chicken 25 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken so skin-side is facing up. Using spoon or spatula, evenly coat chicken skin with remaining softened herb butter and return to oven. Roast chicken until skin is golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest, uncovered, 20 minutes.

5. FOR THE SAUCE: While chicken rests, pour pan juices into fat separator; allow liquid to settle 5 minutes. Pour juices into 2-cup measuring cup and add enough chicken broth to measure 1 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons fat from fat separator to skillet and place over medium heat. When fat is shimmering, add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 60 seconds. Add broth and bring to simmer, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Simmer rapidly until reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in any accumulated chicken juices from carving board; return to simmer and cook 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat, whisk in cold herb butter and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Carve chicken and serve, passing sauce separately.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Raspberry Punch

1 bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1 can Cran Raspberry Concentrate, thawed
2 bottles Cherry 7-up
Optional Raspberry sherbet

Mix concentrate and 1 1/2 bottles cherry 7-up. Add in thawed raspberries. Optional- serve with a scoop of raspberry sherbet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread

This is Tisha Bierman's Recipe:

This recipe is for 5 loaves of bread.
12 Cups wheat flour
2 Tablespoons yeast (instant)
5 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 Tablespoons salt
6 cups warm water
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup oil

Combine 4 cups of flour, yeast, wheat gluten, and salt. Mix well. Add water, honey, and oil. Mix until creamy. Slowly stir in remaining flour to make stiff dough. Add more flour if needed. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into 5 loaves and let rise 20 min. Bake at 350 for 30 min.

*I cut this recipe in half when I make it because my mixer can't handle 12 cups of flour.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chocolate Trifle

This one is easy, quick and yummy. Lots of variations to use like adding a layer of bananas or strawberries, or drizzling caramel sauce over the candy bar layer, or change the flavor of cake mix...etc.

1 pkg chocolate cake mix
1 lrg pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 12 oz carton cool whip, thawed
6 candy bars: snickers or heath/skor bars, diced into small pieces

Bake cake according to directions and let cool. Make pudding according to directions. When cake is cool, break up cake into crumbs and reserve 1/2 cup. Place half of remaining cake crumbs into bottom of clear glass bowl. Then layer with 1/2 pudding, and then a layer of 1/2 of cool whip. Then place 1/2 of candy bar pieces on top of cool whip. Repeat layers ending with cool whip and candy bar pieces and sprinkle rest of cake crumbs on top. Store in the fridge.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Southwest White Bean Chili

1 Tbsp. oil (opt. Pam spray)
2-4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can mild salsa
3 cans small white beans
3 Tbsp. mesquite marinade
1/3 c chopped cilantro
grated Monterey jack cheese (opt)

Saute chicken in oil or pam; add onion and garlic-saute until chicken is lightly browned. Reduce heat; add salsa, beans, marinade and cilantro. Simmer 3-5 minutes. Serve with cheese and cilantro. Makes 4-6 servings.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Food Budgeting

Okay-technically this post isn't a recipe, but it does affect what I cook. Cooking from scratch is much cheaper than buy prepared/frozen meals. This is my monthly food budget breakdown:

$520 Groceries
$50 Scott-lunch @work (it's not enough for everyday, some days are leftovers)
$50 Food storage money (3 month supply/long term food storage)
$30 School lunch money (the kids get to buy a school lunch once a week)

For a grand total of $650/month. It's exactly this amount every month because I get it all in cash. That puts a ceiling on the amount of money I spend. Food storage money is for when things like chicken go on sale, or I stock up on food at Sam's club. It also goes toward buying things at the cannery. Happy budgeting & shopping!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Banana Crush

This is a punch recipe from my mom. Thanks Mom!

4 cups Sugar
6 cups Water

5 bananas, crushed
6 oz. can orange juice concentrate, thawed
42 oz. can pineapple juice
1/2 c lemon juice

Stir sugar and water til dissolved. Crush bananas with fork. Add all remaining ingredients to sugar & water mix and freeze. Thaw to a slush. Serve in a glass with 1 part slush and 1 part Sprite.