Friday, March 23, 2012

Time for a change

Sorry I have been absent.  I have written several posts but have come to find out that my daughter is exhibiting signs of celiac's disease.  So I am going to put this blog on hold for about a week longer, and then I will be back with hopefully awesome paleo recipes. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fresh made salsa verde (it looks hard, but was really easy. I promise)

So last night I did the chicken taco meat in the crockpot and decided I wanted salsa verde with it.  I mean, chicken tacos NEED lime juice and salsa verde.  I felt icky, and seriously looked at the pre-made jars.  The price was low, the effort... beyond minimal.  Pop the jar open and spoon some out.  I mean come on, what is not to love.  Then I remembered.  The taste is not there, the fresh ingredients, not there.  So I sucked it up and made enough to can.  Do NOT freak out.  Canning is painfully easy.  I recommend buying the ball canning kit, the big book of canning for Ball and checking out .  This website is a wonderful resource for what you can and can not do, how to find places to pick fruits, and veggies how to grow them, and so much more.  If you have EVER thought about canning your own stuff, this is a good place to get info. 

So I made this :
Are you jealous yet?
So what do YOU need to make fabulous easy home made salsa verde?  It sounds like a lot, but it is not.  and this makes a LOT.  But you can freeze it or can it and it is great and so fresh when you open it back up.
2 Pounds of Tomatillos ( take the husks off) sliced or quartered
1 onion ( cut into chunks)
2 teaspoons of garlic.
2 small cans of green chilies ( or serano) I used Trader Joe's fire roasted style
4 tablespoons of cilantro ( fresh if possible)
2 tablespoons of oregano ( or up the cilantro)
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 chicken bullion cubes ( optional)
2 teaspoons of salt ( to taste)
1 cup of vinegar
juice of 2 limes ( or about 1/3 cup of lemon or lime juice concentrate)

I know.... it looks overwhelming.  But it is not.  The hardest part is trying to explain to your three year old that those are NOT apples and to please not run off with them to try to eat them.  We eat a lot of granny smith apples in this house.  Then you have to remove the limes from his little hands and tell him that he may have an orange, but these are not oranges.  Then try to ignore the wails from your sick child as you follow these easy directions.

So first husk, dehusk?,  whatever to the tomatillos.  Then cut them into quarters or slices.  Whatever makes you happy.  Cut the onion into manageable chunks as well.  I have a BIG blender so I was able to do this in two batches.  Anyway you blend your tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic and some vinegar then add it to your large pot that you have a lid for. 
Its kind of pretty.

After you blend it add the rest of your ingredients ( lime, salt, oregano, bullion, and cumin).  Bring it to a boil then lower the temperature, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. 

Now. if you are going to can it put it in your warm ( sterilized) jars.  Fill to about 1/4 inch from the top.  Wipe rims put the new ( sterilized/boiled/dishwashered) lids on and finger tighten the rings.  Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes then set out so they can cool off. 

A tip for juicing limes ( or lemons) is to roll them on the counter for a few minutes ( use pressure) and then cut them and squeeze them.  If you have any questions about what I did here, please feel free to ask in the comments below... I would be excited to know that people actually look at this blog.   This salsa also freezes beautifully.  Just be sure it it totally cooled off before you put it in the freezer. 

This is a recipe that I would trust my seven year old to do the majority of.  She can cut veggies and measure alone.  I would be present for the boiling because it will splatter.  If you try it, let me know how it turns out. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Did ya miss me?! Chicken Taco meat

So I have a new computer.  It is a MacBook Pro.  I really like it a lot.  I am cooking again, and am ready to start sharing it with you.
I have been really really sick lately.  And I have been craving GOOD Mexican food.  I lived in McAllen Texas for a year of so when Ivy was a baby.  I didn't speak enough Spanish and it was hard, but MAN WAS THE FOOD GREAT!  I have been wanting tacos like you get at the street stands when you cross the border into Mexico.  Its a little too far to drive so I decided to make my own chicken in the crock pot.  I am so stuffed I can't really smell anything, but sometimes I get a whiff of it and wow! Usually I would mix the seasoning and cut all the veggies myself.  But I just want to sleep.  So I cheated today and used pre-made stuff.

1 packet of taco seasoning
1 container of pico de gallo
2 pounds of chicken (breast or thighs)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of olive oil

 Sprinkle the taco seasoning in the bottom of your crock. 

Put your chicken on top and turn it over to get it on both sides of the chicken.
Then dump your pico de gallo on top of the chicken.
Add your oil and water by pouring it on top of the pico.

Let it cook on low for five to six hours.
 It will look like this when it is done.  Shred it up and put it back in the liquid and set it on warm for another hour. 

You can cut it in half if you want to.  I made so much because I like to freeze it and half extra for other meals later. 

We had chicken tacos.  I will be turning the rest into taquitos later this week and freezing them for duty day dinners.  I made home made salsa verde to go with it ( I will post it tomorrow) and served it with refried beans and corn and salad.  My kids ate it all and asked for seconds.  SECONDS!!!  Can you believe it?! 

My son is sick as well.  He made cooking hard today, and then he tried to help.  I am so very lucky to have such wonderful kids.  Also the hubbs said you should make this.  You should make it today!

Friday, January 20, 2012

That will teach me...

So my laptop has pretty much died.  I will be getting a new on early next month.  BUT I can not post pictures. I will be taking pictures and as soon as I can I will post a boat load or recipes.  I am sorry guys. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where have I been?

So, I have been really busy and not been posting.  Sorry guys.  I will get back to it tomorrow.  My mom is in town, and I have been hanging out with her and forgetting to take pictures of any of the things I have been cooking.  BAD GIRL!!  Sorry guys.  I promise I will start doing better.  Next week I will be making some easy meals, but will still share them. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Zuppa Toscana in the crock pot

My mom came into town.  I think it is impossible to travel with out feeling like you have been beaten with a stick.  We love Olive Garden, and wanted something that was not too heavy.  So I made Zuppa Toscana. in my crock pot.  If you have never had it... you are missing out.  It is basically Italian potato soup.  And it is wonderful! 
  I was not good about taking pictures today. I went to a few different stores and just sort of hung out.  Then I remembered my family thinks I need to feed them every day.... Seriously, it's like I am the mom or something. 

 My husband asks me what is for dinner sometimes.  I am thinking about printing this, framing it, and hanging it in my kitchen. 

That is how I felt today.  That is how I feel every day.  MWAHAHAHAHAHA Anyway. Even though I was bad and took almost no pictures I think it is pretty easy anyway.  It is super.  And I used ground beef that I cooked the other day and froze.  I like to do that because then I have all sorts of stuff to make dinner easier when I have no idea what to make and I need something fast.  Pre cooked ground beef is awesome if you want to make pasta, or pizza, or even sloppy joe's, or this soup. 

What you need:

2 cloves minced garlic
    2 cups chopped Kale or Swiss Chard
    2 cans Chicken Broth
    1 qt. Water
    1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
    1 lb. Italian Sausage or ground beef cooked and drained.
    2 large Russet Baking Potatoes sliced in 1/4 inch slices
    1 chopped large Onion
    1 small bag of Real Bacon Bits
     grated Parmesan cheese.

     Salt and pepper to taste
What you do:

Slice your potatoes and place them in your crock pot. Add your garlic and onion then the water and broth.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5.  The last hour add your bacon bits, whipping cream, and kale.  Turn on high and cook for the last hour.  If it is simmering cook on low foe the last hour. Top with cheese and serve.
The first step in the crock, at the beginning.
The end result.  I like it a little more spicy so I added red pepper flakes. 
I served this with a big salad and some home made Caramelized onion sourdough bread.  My son dipped his ham and cheese sandwich in his soup and then ate the meat and dumped it in his lap.  I didn't even cry.  My daughter, husband, mom and myself all thought it turned out very well.  It was very very close to the soup Olive garden makes. 

You should make this.  It is pretty darn good.  It is filling enough to stand on its own I think, but I like to force my family to eat veggies when ever I can.  If you like your soup to be thicker you can add 2 tablespoons of flour at the beginning and stir it really well. 

I hope you enjoy it.  It is even better the next day. 

Just for some drool worthy picture....
The caramelized onion whole wheat sour dough bread. 
The bread was amazing, and even the kids liked it.  I can share the recipe if anyone is interested.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I find myself making all sorts of things from scratch. Help me!

So, I do not have a full time job.  Aside from being a mom.  So I feel like I should be extra vigilant and make the time to do a lot of stuff by hand.  I do ALL of our baking.  I make our own cheese crackers, and most of the snacks we eat.  I need someone to help me.

However, I hate to be tied to my kitchen ( or house) all of the time.  So I have some labor saving devices.  The best thing I can suggest to do to do all of the cooking and still have a life is to do extra when you can and to buy a few cool kitchen gadgets.  One of my absolute favorites is the bread maker.  I have probably only made 3 loafs of bread from start to finish in it.  I hate the way the loaves are shaped and the hole in the bottom.  I have issues.  BUT  I can set it to  mix and knead my bread and it is warm so the bread will rise, no matter how cold my house is.

You can almost always find them in in thrift stores.  If you find one there ask to plug it in and set it to dough.  Watch it for maybe 5 minutes and see if the paddle starts moving.  I have seen them as low as 3 dollars. 

I started making bread for my family and my daughter said it was too tough.  So, I made up my own recipe for a sandwich loaf.  It looks hard, but I promise... it is not.

What you need:
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons oil or softened butter
2 tablespoons honey
a sprinkle of ground ginger
a TSP oj

3 tsp flax seed gel 1 tbls of ground flax and 2 bls of water )  OR one egg beaten
3 cups flour... half w/w half bread flour
2 cups of starter (or 2 tsp of yeast)
*optional* a half cup of wheat berries

So you add all of your liquid ingredients and salt into your bread maker.  Then add your sugar, ginger, wheat berries if you use them, egg, and flour.  Make a well into the flour and add your yeast.  Set your bread machine to dough and walk away for five minutes.  In five minutes come back and look at the dough.  If needed take a spatula ( rubber) and push stuff from the sides.  Then let it finish up.  The rest of the instructions are after the next paragraph. 
See the well for my yeast?
There is the yeast.  It looks like tiny rocks.  That makes me laugh.
just set it and walk away!!well for 5 minutes
See how it is not all mixed?  Just scrape it down with a rubber spatula.
It should look like this.


Well, think about getting one. But while you are thinking you can do it by hand.  Mix all of your liquid ingredients in a big bowl ( or mixer if you have one)  Then add your others and your dry ingredients.  If you use a mixer use the dough paddle.  If you are doing it by hand I find using a sturdy fork works best.   After you get everything mixed either switch to your dough hook, OR dump your dough out on a well floured surface and knead it for at least 20 minutes.  Call it some names, and wish you already had a bread maker.  Cuss it some more and knead it for up to another  20 minutes if it is not where you need it to be.  You may need to add in more flour.  Your consistency should be a little sticky.  Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic.  Let proof for 1 hour in a warm place.   Read on.  The rest goes for all methods.

After you have your dough run through the dough cycle and the machine is beeping at you like some lost child that needs attention NOW ( or you have mixed and proofed it by hand/ mixer) punch down dough a few times to deflate it some.  Have a loaf pan you have greased and floured ( or use corn meal)  OR use pam or bakers secret.

Shape your dough into a loaf, or just dump it in like I do. Oil the top if the loaf, and make a slit in it. Cover with plastic, and allow to sit about 45 minutes in a warm place.  I usually just turn the oven light on and shut the door. 
See how shiny it is with the oil?  
covered and ready to proof for about 45 minutes.

At the end of that 45 minutes pull it out and preheat your oven to 350.  Bake in  for 35 minutes. (Tent loosely with foil after 20-25 minutes if loaf is browning too quickly.) When bread is done let sit for 5 minutes then remove from pan, place on a cooling rack, and cover until cool. Seal in a bag or container after cooled.

It didn't rise as much as it normally does.  I think I need to get new yeast.  Anyway, it smells HEAVENLY!!! 

My mom is in town.  I will be getting her help and input on recipes.  I have not seen her in over a year, and I am so excited she is here.  So my dears, I am out of here.  I am gonna go hang out with my mom.  Have a great night!  Tomorrow I will make sourdough with caramelized onions for the hubbs.