The culinary ramblings of a picky eater.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fufu and Veggie Stew-Poverty Meal

As I shared recently, we're doing poverty meals once a week. This month, for May, we're focusing on West Africa. I decided that we'd do fufu, which is a starchy substance resembling mashed potatoes but made from anything from potatoes to yams to yuca/cassava to plantains, and then a veggie stew. I actually made enough that four people could have eaten this comfortably, with a ton more stew left over. This seriously made a ton of stew, and I was able to freeze some of it for later this month. Talk about a cost cutting/time saving meal. :)

-1 lb frozen cut okra (not breaded)
-2 can diced tomatoes, drained
-2 cans chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), drained
-1/2 cup-1 cup frozen chopped spinach (no need to thaw or drain)
-1/4 cup raisins
-2 cups beef broth (or chicken broth)
-4 cups water
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

-1 russet potato
-1 yam or sweet potato
-1 plantain (green as you can find, not black)
-3 tablespoons butter

In a large pot, Combine everything but the spinach. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, add the spinach, and continue simmering on medium/medium low another hour or so, till everything is well incorporated and yummy.
You can also do this on low in a crock pot for about 4 hours or so. You just want to allow the flavors to marry well. Making this ahead of time and just heating it up is fine too.

Peel the potato and yam, then cut into large chunks. Leave the peel on the plantain. In a medium pot, add enough water to cover the potato and yam, then heat over high until it boils. Cook until the potato and yam are tender but not terribly mushy, about 10 minutes at a rolling boil. In a separate pot, cover the plantain with water, and bring to a boil. Cook until plantain is tender but not overly mushy, about 10 minutes at a rolling boil. Drain everything. Peel the plantain and add to the potato and yam. Mash with a potato masher with butter until desired consistency.
I like mine smooth but not too smooth. A little texture is good. :)

Spoon some of the fufu into a bowl.
Ladle some of the stew over it, then serve hot.
Enjoy your fufu and stew while remembering the people of West Africa.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cinnamon Dessert Rollups

It seems like I have trouble coming up with desserts to go with Mexican food. While this could technically follow any meal, I think it's a great follow up to Mexican food. It's so easy and so yummy, you can't go wrong. Hope this spices up your next Mexican food night!

-6 tortillas
-butter, for spreading on tortillas (maybe 1/4 cup at most?)
-cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling on tortillas (maybe 1/4-1/2 cup?)

Cut tortillas in half.

Spread each tortilla half with a thin layer of butter.
Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the butter.
Roll the tortilla tightly and secure with a toothpick. Place seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat for all the the tortillas.

Spray the rolls with cooking spray, then bake at 400 for about 15 minutes, or until the tortillas are slightly browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and remove the toothpicks.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Yum.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

I like Mexican food. I'm from Texas. I think it's a requirement.

I love my previous chicken enchilada recipe, but I wanted to try something a bit different this time. I hope enjoy it!

-1 cup diced raw tomatillos (about 3 to 5 tomatillos)
-3 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons flour
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 cup milk
-2 cups shredded monterrey jack cheese
-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-1 tablespoon chili powder
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-tortillas (at least ten)

Spread the diced tomatillos out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Spray with cooking spray and roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatillos are soft but not overly browned.
Set aside.

In a medium size pan, place the shredded chicken. Add just enough water to barely cover the chicken. Add the spices and stir to combine.
Heat over medium heat and simmer, uncovered, until most of the water has cooked out. Set aside.

In a regular skillet, melt the butter over medium/medium low heat. Whisk in the flour to make a roux and cook another couple minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cream and whisk to combine. Cook for a few more minutes until starts to thicken. Add half the milk and whisk to incorporate. Allow to cook, stirring frequently, until thickened slightly. Add the rest of the milk and repeat process. When the sauce is heated through and has started to thicken again, add the tomatillos. Then add 1/3 of the cheese and allow to melt, stirring frequently, until well combined.
Set the rest of the cheese aside to top the enchiladas. Reduce the heat to low to keep warm while assembling the enchiladas.

Spoon a line of chicken into the center of a tortilla. Wrap the tortilla around the filling and pace seam down in a large casserole dish. Repeat until all the chicken and tortillas are used up.
Pour the sauce over the rolled tortillas.
Top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes,
until the cheese is melted and everything is hot and bubbly.
Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Couscous and Lentils-Poverty Meal

My husband and I have recently suffered through a rather difficult time, so we've been looking at our lives and trying to figure out how to simplify them a bit. Not just for simplicity's sake, but in order to make a bigger difference in the world. One of the things we've decided to do is eat a poverty meal once a week. Each month we'll have a region of the world we'll focus on, and as we eat the poverty meal that represents that area, we'll do a few things; we'll appreciate what we have more, we'll focus on others who may not be as fortunate as we are and pray for them, and we'll save just a smidge on our monthly grocery bill. If you want to hear more about our reasoning, you can do so here (toward the end of the post). I did a little research (emphasis on the little) to find out some info on various regions of the world and the common cuisine there. My goal in doing this is not to be absolutely authentic, but to be able to represent the area enough that we know who we're praying for. I realize what I decide to make is not going to be perfectly legitimate to the area, but it's enough for me.

We started doing this in April. April's region was North Africa, so I decided on couscous and lentils, two common staples in that area. I am giving out the recipe so that if anyone else wants to do something similar, they have a starting place. When we do these meals, we thank God for our own blessings, then pray for the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of the people in our region. We also pray for the governments, that they would be just and moral, as unfortunately so many are not. And then we pray that God would use us in some way in our lives to glorify Him.

Alright. Now that I've written a book in explanation, I'll move on the recipe. :) This is enough to serve two people, so adjust as necessary.

-1 cup beef broth (you can use chicken too)
-2/3 cup uncooked couscous

-1/2 cup dry lentils
-3 cups beef broth (or chicken broth)
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-1/4 teaspoon cumin

For Lentils-
Combine the broth and spices in a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil. Add the lentils, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and let simmer for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, until lentils are desired consistency. Keep an eye on them and stir occasionally so they don't burn. Keep an eye on the liquid level as well. If it starts to get too dry, add a little water. I like mine to resemble a stew, so there's a little liquid to serve with the lentils.

For couscous-
In a small pan, bring the broth to a boil. Add the couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let the couscous absorb the liquid for about 7 minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.

To serve, spoon some of the couscous in a bowl. Pour some of the lentils over the couscous and eat as you remember North Africa.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Italian Chicken and Pastry Stacks

I bought some puff pastry dough not too long ago for something, but I didn't use it all. So as I was making up my meal plan, going through what I had in my kitchen, I came across the leftover dough. I decided to figure out something to make for dinner with it, and this is what I came up with. My husband has already asked that I make it again. I guess that means it was good. Haha.

This does take a little time, but not because it's complicated. I used cooked and shredded chicken, so that took a little time before assembling the end product. Frozen pastry dough also takes about an hour to thaw, but you can also put it in the fridge in the morning and it'll be pretty much ready to go at dinner time. If you do the chicken in advance and put the dough in the fridge in the morning, this would only take about 10 minutes to assemble and 15-20 to cook in the evening. Super simple and easy. One pastry sheet made 3 stacks, so adjust accordingly.

Hope you enjoy!

-1 frozen puff pastry sheet
-2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
-approximately 1 cup seasoned tomato sauce (jarred pasta sauce works)
-6 sandwich-sized slices mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix together the shredded chicken and the tomato sauce.

Lay the pastry sheet out flat. Cut into thirds, then cut each third in half, creating six equally sized rectangles of pastry dough.

Lay three of the pieces out on a baking sheet.
Place one slice of the mozzarella on each piece of dough.
Scoop equal portions of the coated chicken on each piece of cheese covered dough.
Top the chicken with another slice of the mozzarella.
Finally, place each of the other three pieces of dough on top of a stack.

Bake the stacks for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is flaky and golden, and the chicken and cheese bubbly.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bacon and Green Pea Pasta

You all know my affinity for pasta. This is just another way to indulge my pasta favoritism. Peas and bacon go really well together. In fact, I have a feeling this is going to be a regular in the pasta rotation at my house. This was really quite yummy. And it has veggies in it, which makes it better, right? :)

This is a simple cream sauce, and I just added some pre-cooked bacon pieces and some frozen peas. So simple, so easy, so yummy. Try it out. You won't regret it.

-1/2 box pasta (I used spaghetti, and this was for two people, and we had just a smidge left over. adjust accordingly)
-3 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons flour
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 cup milk
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (optional, but oh so tasty)
-2 tablespoons pre-cooked bacon pieces (more if desired)
-1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter over medium/medium low heat (a 4 on a 10 point burner) in a medium skillet. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour to make a roux. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the cream and whisk to incorporate. Cook for a minute until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the milk and whisk to combine. Continue stirring frequently while the sauce cooks and starts to thicken. Add the garlic powder and cheese and continue stirring until well incorporated.
If the sauce gets too thick, just add a tablespoon or so at a time of milk to thin it out to the right consistency.

Add the bacon pieces and frozen peas.
Stir in to the sauce. Let the peas get warmed up by the sauce for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the drained pasta
and toss to coat with the sauce.
Serve immediately and enjoy! So yummy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu Rollups

This meal was a result of boredom and ingenuity. I was bored with everything I had been cooking, and this was all pretty much stuff I already had in my pantry and fridge.

I used thin-cut chicken breasts, purchased that way from the store. They're thinner and cook more quickly, and in the case of this meal, are easier to wrap around things. If you only have regular chicken breasts available, just butterfly them all the way through to make thinner pieces. Basically, one chicken breast would become two thinner ones.

This was actually very tasty. My hubby enjoyed it, and so did I. I served this with fresh green beans and some rolls. Yum! This was easy and delicious, and didn't take very long. Great weeknight meal!

-thin-sliced chicken breasts, enough to feed everyone.
-ham lunch meat (any kind will do, really)
-swiss cheese, sliced thin for sandwiches
-toothpicks, for securing the rolls

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Lay the chicken out flat.
Place a slice of the swiss cheese in the center of the breast.
Next, layer on a couple slices of the ham,
followed by another slice of the cheese.

Carefully roll the chicken around the cheese and ham, securing with a toothpick.
Place on a greased or non-stick baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray to keep the chicken from drying out while baking.

Bake until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Serve immediately and enjoy! Yum!