Happy New Year

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I love New Year’s Day. From the parties, noisemakers, confetti, champagne, and the iconic ball-drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve seems to get all the attention. While all of that is fun and games, I adore a quiet New Year’s Day spent at home with our little family watching the Rose Parade in front of a nice fire, listening to Bowl Games droning on in the background while I prepare a traditional meal, and looking forward to the main event. The HGTV Dream Home Special, that is!

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I like to use dried blackeyed peas as fillers in my candle hurricanes in this mantlescape as a nod to New Year’s tradition. Speaking of food traditions, let’s get to the New Year’s meal.  Beans or peas are on many families’ menu as they resemble coins. Blackeyed peas are the legume of choice in the south in a dish called Hoppin’ John served with cornbread. This hearty fare also incorporates pork which is also eaten as a symbol of progress by way of the animal continuing to “root” along and wealth because of its rich fat content. Cooked greens, ranging from collard greens to cabbage are eaten to represent money. My take on the green portion of the meal is coleslaw. Why, I don’t know, but thinly sliced home fried potatoes round out our meal.

Hoppin’ John

1 onion
2 carrots
2 ribs, celery
2 T. butter or olive oil
1 lb. breakfast sausage or smoked sausage, browned and drained
1 package, frozen blackeyed peas
1 package, long grain and wild rice
4 cups, chicken broth

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Start by chopping vegetables into a fine chop.

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I used the food processor to shred the ones in this photo. Then, add them to the soup pot with butter or olive oil to saute until tender.

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Add in your browned sausage.

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And your blackeyed peas.

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And your rice, with the seasoning packet.

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Finish with your chicken broth.  You can use a carton, but I make mine when I roast a whole chicken and freeze it to use when I need it.  More about that here.

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Finished product.  Yum!  I can smell it already.

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I always look forward to this simple meal after the rich dips and desserts of Christmas have come and gone.  It is a carb-laden feast, but the healthy fare starts on January 2nd at our house.  The interior Christmas decorations have all been packed away and it is time for a clean slate.That is what we all love about a new year, isn’t it?  The old has been wiped clean.  The year before us full of possibilities for us to experience, achieve or change.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”  Make the most of yours in 2015.

 

 

 

 

One Chuck Roast, Three Meals

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Does the recollection that Thanksgiving is a mere two weeks away or that Christmas is only six weeks away make your head spin? Me, too. With all of the myriad of items on our collective To Do Lists, let’s make our cooking do triple duty.

We’re going to purchase one large chuck roast (or two if one will not yield leftovers for your family) and use it to make three meals, one of which can be frozen for a quick dinner during the holiday season or for a nutritious lunch in the thermos on a cold day.

Meal 1
Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Pot Roast, served with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Green Peas.

Retain any fat that you trim from the roast and pan drippings in your roasting pan. Return any leftover onions and carrots after the meal is served back to the pan as well. Add about 16 cups of water to the pan and cook right on the stove-top over medium heat until it reduces to a nice rich color. Let cool. Pour broth through a strainer and into quart jars, leaving an inch or so of head space. Freeze.

Meal 2

Beef Stirfry

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Leftover roast beef, sliced (Save half of your beef for Meal 3)
1 t. minced garlic
¼ t. ground ginger
½ c. soy sauce
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, cut into thin sticks
1 broccoli crown, cut into spears (or snow peas, zucchini, or whatever veggie you have in the fridge)
4 mushrooms, sliced

Mix soy sauce with garlic and ground ginger and pour over leftover roast beef to marinade.

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Cut all of your vegetables. Saute vegetables in olive oil over medium-high heat, beginning with the onions for about 5 minutes first.

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Then, add in the carrots and stirfry until almost tender.

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Add remaining veggies last as they will take less time to get tender, adding beef with marinade as the broccoli and mushrooms cook. Serve over brown rice for a quick weeknight meal.

Meal 3

Vegetable Beef Soup

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Remaining leftover roast beef, shredded
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 large potatoes
1 bag, frozen mixed vegetables
1 small can tomato paste
2 quarts beef broth
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar (to reduce the acidity of tomato paste)
½ t. pepper
½ t. parsley flakes

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Saute onion, carrots and celery in olive oil until tender.

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Add potatoes and one quart of beef broth and simmer for 15-20 minutes before adding remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat until all vegetables are cooked through and flavors blend.

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Serve for a meal. Transfer leftovers to pint or quart jars, leaving an inch or so of headspace and freeze.

Frozen Meal Helpers

Beef Broth and Vegetable Beef Soup

Enjoy!

Hawaiian Chicken

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Last night, I braved the wind to face the grill again before it gets too cold. This is one of our family’s signature dinners, always a favorite.

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Hawaiian Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
½ c. soy sauce
¼ c. ketchup
1 t. yellow mustard
4 pineapple slices, fresh or canned
4 slices, provolone cheese

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Mix together a marinade of the brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, and mustard and pour over the chicken breasts in a mixing bowl. You can grill it immediately or put it in the fridge for a few hours to soak up the flavor, whatever your timeline.

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Grill the chicken until done, flipping once during the cooking process.

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Add pineapple slices to the grill for a minute or two.

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Top the grilled chicken breasts with pineapple slice and a slice of provolone cheese. Cover the grill again for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese.

Serve over Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice. We always have mandarin orange salad with it, but will substitute fresh pineapple for the mandarin oranges since we just cut one up for this dish anyway.

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Top 10 Back-to-School Breakfasts, Lunches & Snacks

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Back-to-School time is here and our schedules have just kicked into gear here in Kentucky. Nutritious food choices are more important than ever as our kids return to the classroom and as we adults try to keep it all together as well. While we all have the best of intentions, having a plan and some time-saving strategies is the only way to follow through consistently.

I’ll share my list with you if you share yours with me. Our girls never developed a cereal habit at breakfast. I failed them (or myself) miserably with that one! While I have never allowed alternatives to the dinner I serve, breakfast has always seemed to involve indecision and choice. Over the years, I have tried to clean up my choices keeping the “granola bar on the way out the door” breakfast to a minimum.

Quick Nutritious Breakfast Choices

1.  Greek Yogurt with Blueberries and Granola
2.  French Toast
3.  Oatmeal with Apples and Walnuts
4.  Cinnamon Toast, Peanut Butter Toast or Cheese Toast
5.  High-Fiber Cereal with Almond Milk
6.  Muffins or Sweet Breads (Banana, Amish Friendship)
7.  Bagel with Cream Cheese
8.  Eggs & Toast
9.  Banana with Vanilla Greek Yogurt topped with         Mini-Chocolate Chips and Walnuts
10.  Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich on Whole Wheat Toast

Lunchbox Choices

Do you find yourself constantly resolving to stop eating out for lunch? The boredom of the “sandwich every day” lunch is a killer of our best intentions if you ask me. That said, the sandwich is the obvious first choice. We just have to have some easy options to mix it up a bit.

1.  Ham or Turkey Sandwich
2.  Turkey Wrap
3.  Tuna or Chicken Salad
4.  Grilled Chicken Salad – Plan ahead by grilling extra chicken for dinner to have “planned overs” for lunches.
5.  Soup in Thermos (Canned or Homemade Soups)
6.  Pasta in Thermos – Think bite-sized pasta with marinara or other sauces you have on hand.
7.  Quesadilla – Chicken, Cheese, or Pizza Quesadillas keep well when wrapped in foil in the lunchbox with the dippers in an insulated container (sour cream, salsa, or even marinara sauce)
8.  PB&J – Okay, we all have those days!
9.  Peanut Butter Dippers – Ritz Crackers, Celery, Apple Slices
10. Cottage Cheese and Fresh Pineapple

Snacktime Choices

1.  Fruit Smoothie – Peel and freeze bananas and other fruits in freezer bags to have ingredients at the ready.
2.  Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix
3.  Cheez-Its or other favorite snack crackers
4.  Piemento Cheese and Crackers
5.  Grapes, Apples, Bananas, Peaches, Strawberries, Melon
6.  Carrots & Ranch
7.  Granola Bars
8.  Popcorn
9.  Peanut Butter or Cheese and Crackers
10.Hummus & Pretzel Crisps

Your turn to share!  Help me out, we need some new choices in our lives.

Roasted Chicken

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  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut into pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into pieces
  • 1 T. butter or olive oil
  • Your choice of seasonings, from seasoned salt and pepper, to fresh herbs, to my choice of homemade taco seasoning for a little more flavor.

Begin by placing a whole chicken in a roasting pan and removing the neck and giblets from the body cavity.  Save those icky parts for broth-making in a zipper bag in the refrigerator.

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Cut the vegetables to use for stuffing.

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Stuff body cavity with vegetables, adding any that won’t fit in the roasting pan around the chicken.  Smear butter over the top and sprinkle with a liberal dose of your favorite seasonings.

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Bake at 375 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.

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Voila!  You now have dinner for the first night.  Hold on to those vegetables in the roasting pan, though.  After you have served the roast chicken, pick the remaining meat from the carcass and save for a casserole, soup, sandwiches or salads.

Then, add the bones and skin back to the roasting pan with the vegetables you roasted it with and those neckbones and giblets you saved in the fridge.  Drown them in about 16 cups of water and place over medium-low heat until the liquid reduces by about half and becomes a nice rich golden colored broth.  Strain the liquid and discard everything else.  Allow broth to cool before storing in an assortment of pint or quart jars in the freezer.  Be sure to allow about 1″ of head space so your jars don’t crack.

The byproduct of homemade chicken broth is one of the best parts of this chicken!  You get to control the sodium content, eliminate the preservatives, and the cost.  Since you’ve already paid for the chicken, the broth is free.

Menu Plan Monday – May 19 – 26

Menu Plan
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Welcome to Menu Plan Monday!  I’m sharing my family’s plan here with you.  I hope you will take a few of these suggestions and incorporate them into your plan.  Don’t get bogged down in the details but do jot down a plan for the week to make more time to focus on what is most important at the table, your family. 

Monday – Chicken and Waffles with Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday – Crockpot Chicken Fajitas with Chips and Salsa

Wednesday – On Wednesday nights, our church offers a catered meal and a reasonable price.  This allows our family table to include members of our church family as well.  Since this is a night our family is out of the house, I would offer a simple one-dish meal if this meal was not offered. 

Thursday – Shrimp Alfredo, Italian Salad

Friday – Pizza

Saturday – BBQ, Mexican Cornbread, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Coleslaw

Sunday – Blackened Cod, Baked Potatoes, Strawberry Feta Salad

Looking Ahead

It’s grilling season!  Let’s look at our calendars and schedule a cookout with friends this month.

Until next week, enjoy!

Shared at orgjunkie.com

Menu Plan Monday – May 12 – 18

Menu Plan
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Welcome to Menu Plan Monday!  I’m sharing my family’s plan here with you.  I hope you will take a few of these suggestions and incorporate them into your plan.  Don’t get bogged down in the details but do jot down a plan for the week to make more time to focus on what is most important at the table, your family. 

MondayTeriyaki Chicken

Tuesday – Sauerkraut and Smoked Sausage, Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Beans

Wednesday – On Wednesday nights, our church offers a catered meal and a reasonable price.  This allows our family table to include members of our church family as well.  Since this is a night our family is out of the house, I would offer a simple one-dish meal if this meal was not offered. 

Thursday – Garlic Lime Chicken, Parmesan Pasta Roni, Italian Salad

http://savingdinner.com/garliclimechicken/

Friday – Ham Croissants, Baked Beans, Chips and Dip, Corn on the Cob

Saturday – Cajun Pan-Seared Cod Filets, Baked Potatoes, Mandarin Orange Salad

Sunday – Dale’s Seasoning Broiled Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus

Looking Ahead

It’s grilling season!  Let’s look at our calendars and schedule a cookout with friends this month.

Until next week, enjoy!

Shared on Menu Plan Mondays at orgjunkie.com

Teriyaki Chicken

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  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 3 T. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. minced garlic
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 2 t. water
  • 2 c. broccoli flowerets
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 sweet onion, quartered and sliced into strips
  • 1 green pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 c. fresh pineapple chunks (may substitute canned)

Stir together brown sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, ground ginger, minced garlic, and pepper.  Pour over chicken to marinate.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Stirfry chicken, reserving liquid in a small saucepan.  Remove chicken from the skillet.  Add more oil if needed and stirfry vegetables.  While vegetables are cooking, place saucepan with reserved marinade on medium heat and bring to a boil.  Stir cornstarch and water together.  Reduce heat and add cornstarch mixture to the sauce.  Once vegetables are tender, add chicken back to skillet with the vegetables and pour sauce over it.  Serve with brown or white rice and enjoy!