The culinary ramblings of a picky eater.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grilled Chicken, Creamed Spinach, and Buttered Carrots

When I buy veggies, I almost never use them all at once. I usually have leftovers. So when it comes time to move, I usually have a random assortment of not very many veggies. Haha. So this meal came from cleaning out a couple of them together.

I actually don't mind spinach too terribly much. I very rarely eat it but itself as a side, but I don't mind it. I add it into other dishes all the time. My husband, who is a true deep Southerner, introduced me to creamed spinach. I think everyone makes it a little differently, but my way might be slightly a-typical. I think most of the time it's made with cream and nutmeg. Mine is made with cream, parmesan, garlic, and onion. I think it's quite tasty. My husband likes it as well, so we're golden. Haha.

This meal isn't really very complicated. It's a pretty quick, easy meal, but it was yummy. I think it would be great for those busy weeknights. This made plenty to feed the two of us. I made a chicken breast for each of us, but I know not everyone eats a whole one themselves, so adjust as needed. The creamed spinach and carrots were great portion sizes for us. I would say double the recipe for a family of four. Just saying. :) Have fun!

-2 chicken breasts
-1/4 cup olive oil
-2 tablespoons spice mix (I used a roasted garlic and herb concoction)

-1/2 cup frozen spinach
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-a handful of grated parmesan (probably just under 1/4 cup)
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-2 tablespoons butter

-1 cup carrots (I used baby carrots, so no chopping needed. If using regular carrots, peel and chop coarsely)
-2 tablespoons butter

In a large ziploc bag, place the chicken. Pour in the olive oil and seasoning. Close the bag and massage the seasoning and oil into the chicken. Set aside to marinate for a few minutes.

In a medium sized pan, boil some water. Add the carrots and cook just until tender. You don't want mushy carrots, but you don't want raw either. Drain the carrots and return to pan. Add in the 2 tablespoons of butter and let it melt into the carrots, stirring to coat.
Set aside.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add in the cream and stir. Add in the garlic and onion powders and stir to combine.
Add in the frozen spinach (no need to thaw) and stir. Let the spinach thaw into the cream mixture. When the spinach is thawed, add in the parmesan and stir to combine. Let the parmesan melt into the spinach, stirring occasionally. When the cheese is melted and everything is hot and yummy, it's done.

While the veggies are cooking, remove the chicken from the baggie and place immediately on a grill.
I used my counter top grill that only takes a little while to cook the chicken. If you're using a regular grill, I'd start the chicken before the veggies, but keep an eye on it. Dry, overdone chicken is no good. :) Cook until no longer pink in the center, or until juices run clear when the chicken is poked.

I sliced my chicken and served it that way, adding the veggies to the plate next to it.
This was actually really tasty, and I hope you enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Apple Craisin Chicken Quesadillas

I don't really know how I end up with what I end up with before we move. It is the most random assortment of food stuff ever. So when I went to make my meal plan, I just made a list of everything I had in my pantry and fridge, and played the match up game. Anything that could remotely go together, I came up with a meal from. That's just how I roll when moving time comes around.

Two ingredients I had on my list was an apple and some leftover craisins. In my amazing creative powder (ha!), I managed to come up with the idea of apple craisin chicken quesadillas. It wasn't half bad, actually. Some people aren't fans of fruit and meat together, but I don't mind the combination. I like grapes in my chicken salad, apples with my pork, and other such things. So this was not a big deal for me. If you're one of those that doesn't particularly enjoy fruit and meat, skip this one. I won't be offended. :) This probably made enough quesadillas to feed four people. Adjust accordingly.

-two chicken breasts, cooked and cut into little pieces
-1/4 cup craisins
-1 apple, diced (I used a green apple; they're more tart, which I think works better in this case)
-juice of one lime (to keep the apple from turning brown)
-1 cup shredded cheese (I used colby jack)

In a bowl, pour in the craisins, then about a cup of hot water.
Let them soak for about 10 or 15 minutes. It helps to plump them back up a bit. You don't HAVE to do this step, but I think it helps. Drain the water.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the chicken, apple, lime juice, and cheese to the bowl with the craisins. Stir to combine.
Spoon some of the filling on one half of a tortilla.
Fold the tortilla over the filling. Stab it with a toothpick to keep it closed if necessary. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the tortillas.

Bake the quesadillas for about 5 minutes, then turn over. Bake another 5 minutes, and remove from oven. The tortillas should be slightly crispy and golden brown.
Cut them into wedges and serve immediately.
Yum! Enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pancetta and Spinach Fettuccine

I had some fettuccine I needed to use up, and I had a little pancetta left over from a previous meal, so I figured, hey, why not? I also had some spinach in the freezer, and figured I might as well toss some of that in there too. The end result: awesomeness. My husband was disappointed there wasn't more to eat. Haha. I guess that means he liked it. Either that or he was really hungry...I'm going with he liked it to make myself feel better. :)

This was actually really easy and pretty quick, as well, which is always nice. I actually didn't make too terribly much of this since I was using leftover stuff, but it was enough for two people to have a decent serving. Hope you like it!

-fettuccine (I used probably 6 oz)
-1 tablespoons olive oil
-pancetta, cut into bite size pieces. This was probably 4 oz or so. (1/8 lb)
-2 tablespoons flour
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1/2 cup milk
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1/4 cup frozen spinach

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add in the pancetta and saute it until it starts to crisp up and brown slightly.
There should be a little oil left in the skillet, with some of the rendered fat from the pancetta. This will be the fat for your roux. Sprinkle the flour into the skillet. Stir the flour into the oil and fat. The pancetta will kinda look like it's coated, and the liquid will seem to disappear.
All is well. Add in the cream and stir to incorporate well. It should start to thicken up a bit. Add in the milk and stir to incorporate.
Once the milk is heated through and the sauce begins to thicken a bit again, add in the garlic and onion powder. Stir to combine well. When everything is mixed together and the sauce is hot, add in the frozen spinach. It will thaw in the sauce, so just toss it in there.
When the spinach is heated through and well incorporated, toss the pasta in the sauce. Stir it around the get the pasta coated in the sauce.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

More about-to-move food. This was actually really good. I’ll probably make it again when we get settled in our new house. I looked in my fridge and found a few carrots, then in my freezer I have a ton of frozen peas. I didn’t really have anything to go with those two things, unless I just did some grilled chicken or something…which is possible. But I wanted something different. I was looking online to see what I could find, and I ran across several recipes for shepherd’s pie. It’s the perfect get-rid-of-the-stuff-in-your-fridge meal. You can kinda use whatever you have, which is ideal when you’re about to move, but still want something tasty. So I decided to give it a try.

The main components in almost all the recipes I saw were ground beef, some veggies of some sort, a creamy base for the “sauce,” and mashed potatoes on top. The different ingredients varied a bit from recipe to recipe, but that was the basic outline. So…I made up my own version. I think it turned out well, so I hope you like it to. Have fun! This made enough for about 4 people.

-1 lb ground beef
-3-4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
-1/2 cup frozen peas
-2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
-1/2 c heavy cream
-1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
-2 tablespoons flour
-salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium high heat until no longer pink.
Remove the beef from the skillet, leaving the “grease” behind in the skillet.
I basically just scooped the beef out with a slotted spoon and left the grease behind. Return the skillet to the heat and reduce to medium. Whisk in the flour to make a roux.
Let it cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the cream and whisk to incorporate. Let that cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently. It will start to thicken a good bit. Add the milk and whisk to combine.
This will thin out the “sauce” a little, but it will thicken up a bit again. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low. Continue stirring occasionally while everything comes together.

While the sauce is cooking, boil a small pot of water and a medium pot of water. Add the carrots and peas to the small one and cook until heated through and the carrots are slightly tender. Drain and set aside. In the medium pot, add the potatoes and cook until tender. Mash them with a little butter and milk and set aside.

Combine the beef, sauce, and veggies in a baking dish.
Stir to combine.
Top with the mashed potatoes
and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes have firmed up a bit and are slightly golden brown.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Rotini

Creamy Tomato Spinach Rotini

I’m still cleaning out my kitchen for the move. I pretty much always have pasta of some sort, and making a sauce just kinda comes with that. I always try to think of new types of sauces, so I often have the ingredients laying around. This time, I had some frozen spinach and a jar of diced tomatoes, and some cream and parmesan in the fridge. Voila! Sauce it is. It was pretty easy to make, too…

I used garden rotini. It’s the tricolor kind. It was pretty with the red and green of the sauce. Hehe. I hope you enjoy!

-pasta (I used about 8 oz of the rotini, or half a box)
-1/2 can diced tomatoes, with juices
-1/4 cup frozen spinach
-2 tablespoons butter
-1 tablespoon flour
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1/2 cup milk
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon onion powder

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

In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to make a roux.
Cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cream and whisk to incorporate. It will begin to thicken up. Add the milk and whisk to combine. Continue cooking for a few minutes, letting the sauce thicken slightly.
Add the garlic and onion powder and stir to combine. Add in the tomatoes and spinach.
Let them heat through and combine into the sauce. Coat the pasta with the sauce
and serve immediately. Yum!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Grilled Burritos

Once again, I’m making food based on what’s left in my pantry and fridge. These grilled burritos would be easy to throw together on a busy weeknight. Super easy and pretty yummy.
I usually have some tortillas in the pantry. They’re so versatile that they can make a decent meal in a pinch…quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, etc. So I had quite a few in my pantry. I also pretty much always have chicken in my freezer. We eat a lot of chicken. Chicken is also very versatile.
So I looked at the remaining ingredients in my kitchen and came up with this recipe. I think it turned out pretty well, and it’s not totally crazy. Haha. I made enough for my husband and I to each have 3 or 4 burritos because my tortillas were smaller. If you’re using bigger tortillas, you won’t have as many burritos. I also made about a cup of cooked chicken, just to gauge how much this made. Anyway, enjoy.

-chicken breast, cooked and shredded (about a cup)
-1/2 can whole kernel corn, drained
-1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 cup shredded cheese (I used Colby jack)
-tortillas, enough to feed everyone

Combine the chicken, corn, black beans, and cheese in a large-ish bowl. Stir to incorporate everything evenly.
Spoon a little of the filling in the center of a tortilla.
Fold one edge (the “bottom” of the tortilla) slightly toward the center.
This will keep the filling from falling out as you eat it. Next, fold the two “sides” in to the center to create the burrito.
I used my counter top grill to grill the burritos. I just placed them on the grill, closed the lid, and let them grill for a couple minutes until they were golden brown.
You can also bake them for a few minutes. Either way, heating them up is ideal. Serve immediately.
Yum! I told you it was easy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

About-to-move Food- Potato stuffed crescent roll

Ok, so, we're about to move for the 5th time in 5 years. To a new state. So I'm making up some interesting meals as I'm cleaning out my fridge and pantry in preparation for the move. I do this every time we move, so you'd think I'd have it down by now, but not so much. You always have different weird things left over.

This is basically loaded mashed potatoes in a crescent roll crust. Let me explain how this came to be...

When I was younger, and my family would go out for dinner somewhere that served steak, potatoes, and rolls, I would invariably end up stuffing the potatoes into the roll and eating them together. I know, I'm weird. I have accepted that. Haha. But anyway...I did that. So when I was looking at what I had in my fridge and pantry to make for dinner, I saw potatoes and a tube of crescent rolls. just happened. Haha.

Honestly, this was actually pretty tasty. A little odd (my husband looked at me funny when I told him what it was), but tasty nonetheless. I'm not saying you should serve this alone for dinner, but it would be a great side dish. Grilled chicken, steaks, etc. would all go great with this. So have fun playing with this food...

-1 tube refrigerator crescent rolls
-2-3 medium sized potatoes (I used russet)
-butter to taste (I used about 1/4 cup)
-milk, enough to get a creamy consistency for the mashed potatoes (I used about 1/4 cup)
-shredded cheese, per your preference (I used about a cup of cheddar)
-crumbled bacon, per your preference (I used about 3 tablespoons)

Wash, peel, and boil the potatoes in a large pot until the potatoes are fork tender. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes with the butter.
Add in the milk and mash some more.
Stir in the cheese
and bacon crumbles.

Unroll the crescent rolls onto a baking sheet.
Pinch all the seams together so it's one big piece of dough (You can also get the Crescent Creations thing Pillsbury makes and skip this step).
Scoop the potatoes into the center of the dough and pile it up, leaving enough dough on the sides to wrap over the potatoes.

Fold the edges of the dough up and over the potatoes.
Pinch the dough together in the center to keep the whole thing together. I scored the top a few times to let some of the steam from the potatoes escape.
Bake according to package directions until the dough is golden brown and yummy.
Cut a piece from the roll and enjoy!