Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Root Beer Chicken & Zucchini Two Ways

This is the ultimate kid pleasing meal!  Root beer chicken & crispy zucchini fries. It is definitely not one of my most nutritious meals, but after a long day home with two small ones it just sounded yummy.  Plus, I was able to pull it together using stuff I already had in the kitchen. Always a plus.

SIDE NOTE:  It is difficult for me to post recipes b/c I never really follow recipes (except for baking).  I just throw things together, whatever I have on hand, changing recipes to fit my tastes, and rarely measuring anything.  For blogging purposes I will start measuring and paying attention to what I'm tossin' in.

Root Beer Chicken... the idea came from my friend Haley.  A few women from church and I have been trying to have monthly recipe swap parties- they are a lot of fun and I come home with some great new ideas to try.  Anyway, Haley's contribution at the last swap was Coke Chicken.  I didn't have Coke, but I did have root beer.  It's super easy.

You need only 3 ingredients!!!:
Chicken- any kind, as much as you want to make (boneless cut into chunks, or bone in pieces)   I used chicken thighs, 10 pieces for $4.50!  That's a deal!
2 cups  Root Beer- or Coke- or Dr. Pepper
1 cup    BBQ sauce (Haley's recipe calls for a whole bottle, I reduced it)

4 Steps:
1.  Brown chicken
2.  Dump in soda & sauce
3.  Boil until thick for about 15 minutes
4.  Reduce to simmer for about 10 more minutes

You cannot get any easier than that!  Serve it with rice or noodles to soak up the 'dewicious 'sauce.  Plus, you get to tell you kids that they will get to have SODA for dinner!  My little man freaked out!


Also, a disclaimer:  I am NOT a food photographer.  My pictures may look awful.  That's just the way it is.  

Zucchini Two Ways

First way: Oven roasted, my favorite
1.  Chop squash into 1 inch chunks
2.  Coat with olive oil, salt, & pepper
3.  Bake for about 35 minutes at 375 (or whatever)

Second Way:  Crispy Zucchini Fries (the kid's favorite)

You need:  
parmesan cheese (grated, or whatever you have)

1.  Chop into fry shape- spear- wedge- triangular prism.... whatever you prefer to call
2.  Put pieces through the FEB assembly line (Flour -> Egg-> Breadcrumbs & Parm)  
3.  Place on baking sheet & Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes until golden brown.

I just put both of these on the same baking sheet at the same time.  

Test these out on your family & let us know how it turned out!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Pizza!

Who doesn't love pizza?
Recently our lifegroup at church had to answer the question, "If you were about to be executed, what would you choose to be your last meal?"
My answer:  PIZZA!

I know I have the same answer as most 12 year olds, but I can't help it- I've always been a huge fan of pizza.  

I even love CiCi's.  (Did you just gasp?)  Please don't hold it against me.  I mean if I could I'd eat California Pizza Kitchen or Mellow Mushroom (check it out!) all the time, but I'm a stay at home mom on a very frugal budget.  

So in order to have pizza frequently we started making it at home.  We do it about once a week.  I found a super easy and tasty recipe for dough you can do in the food processor.  I don't have a Kitchenaid mixer, so the food processor is my best buddy when it comes to pizza dough.  

This recipe is taken from Emeril's site here.

You need: 
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour, plus more if necessary (start with 2.5 and add if too sticky)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1.  Put the water and yeast in the mixer and let sit for like 5 minutes to "proof".
2.  Add salt, oil, and flour.  
3.  Pulse the mixer until it forms a ball of dough.  Check stickiness, it should be soft and not too sticky.
4.  Remove from mixer and place on floured work surface.  Knead just a bit.
5.  Put dough in oiled bowl and coat dough ball with the oil.
6.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. 
7.  Remove from bowl and form into your crusts.  I usually make about two. 

When I make this I usually do it in the morning or around lunch so it's ready at dinner time.

I toss on whatever ingredients I have in the fridge or pantry.  That time it looks like I had pepperoni, onions, red pepper, tomatoes, and some spinach.  This dough usually rises really nice, well depending on the type of yeast.  I bought the pizza dough "no rise" yeast the other day and wasn't too impressed.  

Making homemade pizza is also super fun to do with your kids.  I know my little man loves it. Although a lot of times he's not even hungry anymore when the pizza comes out of the oven because he filled his tummy up eating pinches of raw dough, cheese, pepperonis, and veggies. He'll even try to eat the flour and say it's so "dewicious".  

He's a nut.

Give this recipe a try & put pizza on your menu this week too!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mexican Mix for Quesadillas & TV-Watchin' Chicken Nachos

Hey, It's Alison.

First, my camera is mad at my computer. Or maybe my computer is mad at my camera. They're not talking to each other.
Once the argument is resolved between them & the shunning is over (UnShun!) I'll add some photos.

In the Westly house one of our go-to meals is TV-Watchin' Chicken Nachos. It truly tastes best sitting on the couch watching a movie or an episode of The Office.

Start with the Mexican Mix, then use this to either make Quesadillas or Chicken Nachos.

Mexican Mix:
Leftover rotisserie Chicken, shredded, bones & skin removed
Diced vegetables: bell pepper, onion, tomato, avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, etc.
Black Beans, rinsed & drained
Mix all ingredients together. Throw in what you have & adjust the ingredients on your taste preferences.

To make Quesadillas:
Sprinkle Tortilla with cheddar cheese (or Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, etc)
Sprinkle Mexican Mix on top of cheese
Sprinkle more cheese over MexMix
Top with 2nd Tortilla
Bake 350 10 to 15 minutes, flip once.

To make TV-Watchin' Chicken Nachos:
Preheat oven to 350.
Layer tortilla chips onto oven-safe platter.
Sprinkle MexMix over chips.
Sprinkle cheese over chips & MexMix.
Cover with foil. *Tent up foil or your cheese will stick to foil!
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or til cheese is mellted.

Make these sometime. Seriously- you cannot mess it up.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Lasagna

So for our first recipe we decided on Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Lasagna. I'm not really sure how we arrived at this one. I think Alison had said she had a hankering for some goat cheese and I was thinking I really like squash... so when I saw this recipe we decided to try it. Then we decided to start a cooking blog. Since this was the most recent recipe we'd talked about, it was chosen to be our first post.

The reason I'm telling you how it was decided upon is because this definitely isn't something I'd normally try and isn't representative of what you'll see on this blog of food coming out of my kitchen. (Especially since it's essentially meatless and contains goat cheese- I cook for a man and a two year old. Not really gonna fly

It sounds fancy and it kinda is. We wore fur coats while making it. And snacked on baluga caviar. (or whatever fancy people snack on)

Anyway, here are a few pictures from the process. (clicking the image will make it larger)

And the final product....


Doesn't it look so yummy? It was pretty good... to the gals anyway. The husbands weren't big fans and we didn't even offer it to the littles. We ate pretty late and fed the kids earlier. If I were to make this one again I would add meat and maybe not use as much of the goat 
cheese, it did have quite a strong flavor.

Here is the recipe taken from this site, Perry's Plate:

6 slices of uncooked bacon
1 1/2 cups smashed roasted butternut squash (see note)
8 ounces goat cheese
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 T minced fresh sage or 1/2 tsp dried ground sage + 2 sprigs of fresh sage to fry for garnish
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
3 cups marinara sauce (about 25 oz or so)
9 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Fry the bacon (sliced or whole, whichever you prefer) in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it crisps up. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Meanwhile, remove leaves from the 2 sprigs of fresh sage and add to the hot bacon drippings after you remove the cooked bacon. Fry for about 45 seconds or so until they, too, crisp up. Remove fried leaves from skillet and set aside with cooked bacon bits.

In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, ricotta cheese, egg, 2 T minced fresh sage, salt & pepper. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Prepare an 11x7 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray and add spread a couple spoonfuls of marinara sauce in the bottom. Put a layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce. I used three, but I had to break one to make it fit. Spread about 1/2 cup smashed squash over noodles, followed by 1/3 of the goat cheese mixture, 1/3 of the marinara sauce and 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella. Repeat layering two more times with remaining ingredients and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes until everything is bubbly, heated through, and the cheese begins to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and top with reserved bacon bits and fried sage. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Makes about 6 servings.

So there it is.  The first post.  We hope you'll join us in this new adventure!

Happy Cooking!

Friday, October 21, 2011

First Recipe Coming Soon!

Our first recipe is coming soon!
We will be making Roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, and bacon lasagna!

Let's hope it's a success!