Thursday, March 28, 2013

Recipe Roll #3

I'm so thankful for busy times.  It truly helps me appreciate when life is slow.  That being said ... it's been another crazy, busy work week in our house.  I can't help but thank the Lord for His provision and a wonderful, supportive husband  - he is such a great help to me ... my culinary inspiration. :)

When life is crazy, you don't have to eat out - in the time it takes you to "drive thru", with just a tiny bit of planning and prepping, you can have any of these family-tested meals below.  I hope that you're inspired by what you see.  I know it's hard, especially when you're busy, to plan meals ... and to follow through making them.  But the payoff is better health and more money in the bank.  Isn't that something we all hope for? 

Saturday we had Matt's favourite - Brined and Roasted Chicken Pieces by Morton Salt.

I came across this recipe on Pinterest a couple weeks ago.  I had found chicken pieces on sale, but I wasn't sure what to do with them.  I've heard a lot about brines and this seemed pretty quick and easy, so we gave it a try.  OH MY GOODNESS - the chicken turned out so juicy ... better than KFC (according to Matt) and a lot better for you!  I served with smashed red potatoes and fresh asparagus. MMM!!

Sunday we had Kirk's Famous Sushi by Not Deprived (here's their video tutorial as well) with homemade sweet chili sauce.

This is an EXCELLENT tutorial for perfect at-home sushi.  My whole family was hands-on with this one - everyone had a job!  We had so much fun ... and it was easier than I thought!

Here's our actual finished product ...

I used rice paper because I'm not a huge fan of nori (seaweed sheets) ... or anything fish for that matter, but for Matt and Morgan I added strips of honey salmon (salmon rubbed with salt, pepper and honey, then sautéd in olive oil until cooked through).

Sushi does not equal fish ... the rest of the rolls I stuffed full of only veggies and they turned out delish (just look at that picture above - YUM)!  If you like sushi, this is a must try.  It helps to have a sushi mat, but if you don't, plastic wrap seems to work ok.  Serve with fresh fruit on the side for a perfect finger food meal.

Here's the sweet chili sauce I topped the sushi with ... HUGE WIN (so much tastier than store-bought)!

Sweet Chili Sauce:
1/2 cup honey
3 heaping tablespoons sambal oelek chili paste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

And just in case you're wondering about that chili paste, you can find it in the Asian section at most stores ... I find mine at Walmart here in Canada and Target/Meijer in the States.

Monday we tried Cheesy Quinoa Mac & Cheese from Around the Table: Loving Food in RI and Beyond

For the veggies I used a can of chopped green chilis and instead of milk I used sour cream. It turned out so yummy.  For the seasoned salt I used one of my new kitchen favourites - Herbamare.  You can find it in the natural section at most grocery stores.

I left out the suggested bread crumbs and used old white cheddar ... then served with a few fresh cut veggies.  It wasn't Morgan's favourite - I think because she's so used to the noodle texture, but it was really tasty.  I would definitely make this again - high nutrition comfort food at it's best!

Tuesday we had my mom's delicious Lean & Green Tortilla Soup.

Wednesday we tried Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches from The Pioneer Woman

What can I even say ... yes, this recipe leaves me speechless.  If you need a quick crowd-pleaser, THIS IS IT.  I used two meats (gluten-free Castle Wood Turkey Pastrami and Angus Roast Beef from Sam's Club) and sharp white cheddar on Udi's Gluten-free buns.  I put a few extras together and we used them for lunches.  I tried serving with a veg-packed salad, but sometimes only crunchy, salty chips will do ... and for that I choose Boulder Canyon Garden Select Vegetable Crisps.

Thankfully they sell giant bags of these at Sam's Club.  They rock! :)

Thursday (today) I made my Homemade Pizza, but, since I was extremely pressed for time, we tried Udi's Pizza Crusts instead of the Bob's Red Mill Mix I usually make.  You know what - we liked them WAY better!  They're thin and crispy ... I will definitely be keeping these on-hand.

Friday we are getting together with family and I plan to make my Haystacks in a Hurry.  It's a great option for a crowd ... and super easy for each person to customize according to their taste.

Happy Easter! Hope you enjoy a wonderful time with friends and family as we reflect and celebrate salvation through Jesus Christ, the only Way, Truth and Life! (John 14:6)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lean & Green Tortilla Soup

This soup will not win any beauty contests, but it is DELICIOUS ... not to mention a snap to put together.  When I was a teenager, my mom started making this verde version of tortilla soup and it was an instant hit.  The flavour is SO GOOD and, for Mexican food lovers like us, almost addicting!  The best part of all :: it's one of those naturally gluten-free meals that requires no substitutions and makes a wonderfully fresh and hearty dinner.  Matt and Morgan are crispy-tortilla-strip crazy, so I always double that portion of the recipe ...

10 corn tortillas
olive oil
sea salt
1 cup chopped poblano peppers
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp cumin
1 garlic glove, minced
28 ounces of chicken broth (or one large can)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/4 cup salsa verde (make sure you grab mild, unless you want it spicy)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro + more for garnish

Crispy Tortilla Strips (the tasty topping)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut six of the tortillas in half. Stack the piles on top of each other and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Toss with 1 tsp of olive oil and bake 10-12 min, stirring once, until crisp. Remove from the oven and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

Remove membranes and seeds from the poblanos. Toss chicken in cumin. Slice the remaining four tortillas into strips.

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a medium size soup pot. Add chicken and cook for about 5-10 minutes until it's browned (try not to overlook, as chicken breasts can dry out quickly). Remove and set aside.

In the same pot you used for the chicken, add poblanos, onion and garlic. After about 3 minutes, return chicken to the pot and add the beans, salsa, broth and raw tortilla strips. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Right before serving, stir in cilantro.

Top each serving with a small dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of Monterey Jack and a few of the crispy tortilla strips.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Recipe Roll #2

Another busy week in our house.  This time of year is always full ... really my busiest time as a designer.  Matt's schedule is crazy as well ... and if I didn't have a plan, we'd be eating nacho chips with cheese melted in the microwave every night for dinner - literally.  It's happened before.

I'm a planner by nature, and in those moments of busy insanity, I cling to my plan.  I depend on fast, easy and low-maintenance meals ... which can be difficult when you have food intolerance of any kind.  My biggest ally, as I talked about in my last Recipe Roll, is Pinterest.  If you're struggling to come up with a menu plan - look there first.  With each menu plan, make a matching grocery list (listing everything you need for those recipes) ... then save them.  Before you head to the store, shop your pantry first ... then head out to shop for the remainder of the items you need for the week.  After 6 weeks you'll have six menu plans and 6 grocery lists to rotate!  You'll also be using up the things you have in your cupboards - a huge time and money saver!

Here's our week-at-a-glance menu - we're trying a few new things, along with a few of our tried and true favourites ...

Sunday I made Spinach Artichoke Dip by Annie's Eats

I don't usually cook on Sundays, but it was our turn to host small group Bible study and I needed an yummy warm snack to go with fresh fruit and goodies ... this was perfect.  I used fresh baby spinach instead of frozen and it turned out awesome.

I served the dip with Multi-Grain crackers by Crunchmaster I found at Sam's Club (I've also found them at Costco).

Monday we tried Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs by foodraf

I LOVED this chicken. Not only was it tasty, it came together so fast. I only made enough for the three of us and I wish I'd made more for leftovers. It would have been amazing chopped up on a fresh salad or stirred into my Lentils and Rice Stir-Fry. I served the chicken with a simple broccoli cheese rice and it was perfect!

Tuesday we tried Wine-braised Chuck Roast with Onions from Epicurious

I only have two words: MAKE THIS. It was so easy and the result was over the top. The onions and wine break down and create a delicious beefy sauce/gravy. I served with simple roasted garlic mashed potatoes ... and we were fighting over leftovers for lunch the next day.

Wednesday we tried Leek, Butternut Squash and Potato Soup by Cannelle et Vanille

The only things I did differently was roast the butternut squash ahead of time and add a bay leaf for extra flavour. It came out very tasty ... perfect for a chilly, snow-in-the-air day.

Thursday (today) I'm making my Meatless Baked Tacos.

This is one of our favourites for sure.  I love entertaining with tacos (we've invited Matt's parents for dinner) because they are customizable - each person can make their meal exactly how they like it.  The "meat" is actually a mix of beans and lentils combined with refried beans and onion (believe me, you won't miss the meat) ... throw all the fresh veg on top and they are a perfect quick, easy and healthy meal your family will love!

Friday I am going to BBQ the Best Ever Hamburgers by A Pretty Life

We actually make these burgers ahead of time and vacuum seal them in packages of 5 for the freezer ... and just like the name - they are the BEST EVER.  Matt prefers to grind his own beef ... though, if you've read any of my past posts, you know I eat a mostly vegetarian diet with only small portions of meat ... but I do allow myself to have one of these from time to time. ;)

I always substitute rice flour for the breadcrumbs and they turn out perfectly. I serve these on Udi's gluten-free buns (or wrapped in a large lettuce leaf) ...

... topped with Pickle Dip by Buns in My Oven and my Homemade Fries on the side!  Delicious!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Recipe Roll #1

This week has been a particularly busy week in our house (it's graphic design crunch time), which hasn't left much time for creativity around the house.  I thrive on innovation in the kitchen, but I also need a balance of simplicity now and then.  In those moments I turn to Pinterest!  I quickly snap screenshots of a few chosen recipes on my Pinterest app and zip to the store.

I used to have a Pinterest folder dedicated to recipes I've tried and loved ... but it got too big ... and a little lost with my other folders.  So ... I thought I'd start a sort of "Recipe Roll" here so I can share, what I consider, the yummy stuff I make when time is tight.

Monday we tried Veggie Laksa (Coconut Curry Soup) from Considering the Campbells.

It was really good!  A bit zippy, but we like it a little spicy.
Things I will do differently next time I make this so it's easier to eat:
  1. chop the veggies instead of slice
  2. break up my rice noodles into pieces
  3. double the recipe 
Tuesday we tried Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers from Peace + Love + Low Carb.

They were amazing.  I don't eat beef very often (really never), especially lunch meat ... but when I do, I use Castle Wood Reserve from Sam's Club (gluten-free).

I served these stuffed peppers with Trader Joe's Basmati Rice Medley made quickly in the rice cooker.  Next time I think I'll add this cooked rice into the pepper with the meat mixture for a full meal-in-one.
Wednesday we had chopped salad topped with with hard boiled egg, rotisserie chicken, chopped veggies and gluten-free, nitrate-free bacon (again, I don't eat the bacon, but my family sure loves it!).

I served with two dressing choices: Brianna's Ranch dressing and Vidalia Onion Vinegarette dressing.  To my surprise, Morgan asked if we could have chopped salad for dinner all the time!  Um ... YES!

Thursday (today) we're having Crockpot Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup from Karen Peterson with Today's Mama.

If the inviting smell wafting through my house is any indication on how this will taste ... I know its going to be delish and can't wait!!  I modified it a bit and used gluten-free rice flour to make the rue.  I'm serving it with a simple side salad of greens and veg.

Friday I'm going to make Restaurant Style Baked Potatoes from I Wash You Dry.

I've made these before and they are awesome.  I serve with a little butter, Daisy sour cream, sharp white cheddar and green onion ... along side a simple salad.  Fast, easy ... and full of fibre!

So there you have it ... my busy week-at-a-glance menu, aka "Recipe Roll" - each meal taking 15 min or less to prepare.  Just remember, even when things are crazy busy, deadlines looming, kids are sick, friends are in crisis and your calendar is full ... you can still come out ahead and avoid eating the empty calorie, fast-food junk that marketing gurus disguise as quick dinner with just a flip through your Pinterest and a few minutes a day.  Not only will you feel better, but you'll actually have the energy to keep up with everything ... mealtime sanity simplified - nothing better. :)