Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fish in Foil


My husband is a huge halibut fan.  When he was in the Army, he was stationed in New York.  He says they eat it like crazy there, almost like chicken fried steak in Texas.  I've really only eaten it once or twice, so I can't say that I've been a fan.  My daughter works in a health food grocery store, and they send her home with extras sometimes.  She happened to bring home four halibut fillets.  So I decided I'd use them.

Last night we made this Foil Baked Halibut with Black Beans and Corn.  It has a surprisingly great combination of spice, citrus, and sweetness from the corn.  It really is a pretty healthy meal too.  Yes, it has a little butter.  But that's really the only fattening part of this dish.  It was so easy to put together and cooks in about 20 minutes.  My poor daughter just had her wisdom teeth removed, so she couldn't eat it. But my son ate his packet and hers.  I was shocked to see him eat it.  He's really gotten over his pickiness in the last year and will eat anything now.  My husband was ecstatic over this dish and absolutely loved it.  If you are a halibut fan, you're going to love this too.  Enjoy!

FOIL BAKED HALIBUT WITH BLACK BEANS & CORN
Four 6-8 ounce halibut fillets
Half a stick of butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 C frozen corn kernels
Juice and zest from 1 large lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T chopped cilantro
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Get four large pieces of foil ready and a sheet pan.  Stir together the black beans, corn, one of the chopped chipotles, the cilantro, the lime juice, the minced garlic, and some salt and pepper.  Divide that mixture onto the four pieces of foil.  Lay the four halibut fillets on top of the black bean mixture and season the fish with salt and pepper.  

Stir together the butter, the other chopped chipotle, the garlic powder, the zest of the lime, and a little salt and pepper. Brush the butter mixture over the tops of the halibut.  Close them up and put them on the sheet pan.  Bake the packets about 15 to 20 minutes or until the fish is done.

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Preparing for Winter


So we are preparing for the inevitable...winter.  My absolute least favorite season.  I love the holidays, but I can't stand cold weather and snow.  I'm a flip-flops kinda girl.  Texas weather is really weird.  It can be 10 degrees one day and 80 the next.  Sometimes it's in the 30s in the morning and 80s the same afternoon.  It's hard to figure out how to dress for the day.  It gets hot in the restaurant I work at, so I like to wear shorts if I can.

We've been doing a lot of work around the house to prepare for winter also.  We are finishing up installing a new fence. We had to have a very massive tree removed from our front yard.  It was sick and we didn't think it could take the weight of ice on the branches or strong winds and were worried it would come down on the cars or the house.  And we still need to winterize the pool.  Yuck.

Life can be crazy and hectic, so it's good to have easy meals to prepare.  We made this Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry last night.  It was so good!  Only three of us ate it and my son ate the most.  There was none leftover for my daughter.  You could add more veggies to this too.  My husband said he wished it had those little baby corns in it.  I would have liked to add green onions to it, but we didn't have any.  I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs here, but boneless, skinless breasts would work too.  It's easy and darn tasty! Enjoy!

CHICKEN & BROCCOLI STIR FRY
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
3 T butter
1 T sesame oil
1 T hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon dried ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C oyster sauce
1/4 C chicken stock
1/4 C soy sauce
3 T brown sugar
1 T cornstarch
3 C broccoli florets
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
One 5-ounce can cashews

Melt the butter in a large skillet and add in the chicken. Season the chicken with a bit of salt & pepper.  Cook and stir until the chicken is mostly done, about 5-6 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the sesame oil, hoisin, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, chicken stock, soy sauce, brown sugar and cornstarch.  Set that aside.

Once the chicken is mostly done, add in the broccoli and mushrooms.  Stir it and cover it with a lid.  Cook and steam the veggies for about 5-6 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.  Add in the sauce.  Bring the sauce to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened.  Stir in the cashews and serve.  This would be great over rice.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Taco Love



I've said before how much I love tacos.  Tacos for breakfast, tacos for lunch, tacos for dinner.  I haven't met a taco I didn't like.  But now...this happened.  My husband's favorite thing I cook is my Chicken Flautas.  They are pretty darn tasty.  So I thought, why can't I put the same filling in a taco shell and bake it.  There's no frying involved so it will be easier than making the flautas.  

And let me tell you, these Oven Baked Chicken Tacos are my all time favorite now.  They are fantastic!  I even took the leftovers to work and heated them up on a sheet tray in the oven and they were fantastic left over too!  Now I think other tacos are ruined for me.  Except Carne Guisada.  That's my favorite too.  And Carne Asada.  Okay, maybe I should say my favorite chicken taco.  These were a huge hit at my house, and I know your family will love them too!  Enjoy!

OVEN BAKED CHICKEN TACOS
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
One 7-ounce can El Pato brand Mexican style hot tomato sauce or Herdez salsa casera (see note)
One 4-ounce can green chilies
1 C chicken stock
1 T cumin (see note)
1 T chili powder (see note)
1 T garlic powder (see note)
Salt & pepper, to taste
10 stand & stuff taco shells (the flat bottom shells)
1 1/2 C shredded cheese
Diced tomatoes, if desired
Chopped cilantro, if desired
Sour cream, if desired

NOTES:  If you can't find El Pato or Herdez sauce, you can use a 7-ounce can of regular tomato sauce.  You may want to add some red chili flakes or cayenne to give it some heat. Also, I am heavy handed on seasoning, but we like it that way.  Feel free to use less garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder.  Also, you could use about 3 C of already cooked and shredded chicken if you need this to be quicker.

Boil the 4 chicken breasts in water with a little salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin.  When they are done (it should take about 20 minutes or so), let them cool enough so that you can shred the meat.  Shred the meat and set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lay the taco shells out on a sheet pan.  Bake them for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the chicken, stock, green chilies, tomato sauce, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder in a skillet. Season it with salt and pepper.  Cook on medium high heat, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has cooked out.  

Fill each taco shell with the chicken mixture.  Put cheese into each taco.  Return the sheet pan to the oven and bake the tacos for 10-15 minutes or until the shells are cripsy and the cheese is melted.  Serve the tacos with the tomatoes, cilantro, and sour cream, if desired.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Crockpot Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole


I have been on a tater tot kick lately, but I just can't help it.  I love potatoes in any form.  We love breakfast at our house, but sometimes it just takes too long to get it going.  That's why I love this Crockpot Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole.  It's fantastic!  This makes a lot, so it's great for holidays when there's lots of company.  I made this the night before and just left the crockpot on warm all night.  But you could play it safe if that worries you and cook it on high for 2-3 hours or on low for about 4-6 hours.  And you can put just about whatever you like in it.  Enjoy!

CROCKPOT TATER TOT BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
One 32-ounce bag frozen tater tots
12 eggs
Salt & pepper
3/4 C milk
1/2 lb sausage (like Jimmy Dean), cooked and crumbled
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 C shredded cheese

Spray the crockpot with nonstick spray.  Layer half of the tater tots in the bottom of the crockpot.  Whisk together the eggs, milk and some salt & pepper.  Pour the egg mixture over the tater tots.  Next sprinkle in half of the cheese.  Layer in the cooked bacon and sausage.  Layer the rest of the tater tots over the top.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.  Cover it and cook it on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours or until the eggs are set.  We did this the night before and left it on warm all night and it turned out fine.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Under Pressure


So my son is taking a culinary class in high school.  He has to cook a dish from scratch and provide directions and a list of ingredients.  Cool, right?  Well, maybe if you aren't a blogger.  I feel so pressured to make sure he gets this right. He picked my Blackened Chicken with Fettuccine Alfredo, since that's one of his favorites.  It's a pretty easy recipe, so hopefully he can do me justice.  After all, my reputation is at stake with his attempt to cook this!  Haha...okay, not really. He's actually pretty good at cooking, so I think he'll do just fine.

I'm still on my quest for quick dinners, and I especially love crockpot dinners.  This Crockpot Sausage, Potatoes & Green Beans is a cinch to throw together and it's ready by the time you get home from work.  Or shopping.  I want to spend the day shopping.  Sorry, I got off track.  There are very little ingredients here, and the end result is great.  It's hearty, filling, and darn tasty!

CROCKPOT SAUSAGE, POTATOES & GREEN BEANS
1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, cut into cubes
1 1/2 C fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 lbs smoked sausage, sliced
12 ounces cream cheese
One 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
One packet Ranch dip mix
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C shredded cheese, any variety

Put the cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave it for 1 minute.  Whisk the cream of mushroom soup and the Ranch dip mix into the cream cheese.  Put the cream cheese mixture and the remaining ingredients except the shredded cheese into a crockpot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the potatoes are done.  During the last 10 minutes or so of cooking, stir in the shredded cheese and let it melt.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Halloween Monster Mix


I made this Halloween Monster Mix for my son who has been relentlessly reminding me that it's Halloween season.  I coated half of the Chex cereal with a chocolate, peanut butter and powdered sugar mix.  The other half of the Chex cereal was coated with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  This can be so easily changed to include many other things, like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, Crispix, Cocoa Puffs, Bugles, caramel corn, M&Ms, you name it.  It makes a bunch too so you could put it in small bags to give out at Halloween.  And it's darn tasty!  Enjoy!

HALLOWEEN MONSTER MIX
FOR THE CHOCOLATE/PEANUT BUTTER MIX:
3 C Chex cereal (any flavor)
1 1/2 C pecans
One 10-ounce bag milk chocolate chips
1/2 C smooth peanut butter
2-3 C powdered sugar

FOR THE BROWN SUGAR/CINNAMON MIX:
3 C Chex cereal (any flavor)
1 1/2 C pecans
6 T butter
1/4 C brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

FOR THE MONSTER MIX:
One 10-ounce bag mini marshmallows
12 ounces of candy corn
One 10.5-ounce bag Reeses Pieces
2 C pretzels

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Spread 3 C of the Chex cereal and 1 1/2 C of the pecans on a sheet pan.  Melt the butter in a microwave and stir in the brown sugar and the cinnamon.  Pour the mixture over the cereal.  Stir the mixture around to coat it and spread it out in a single layer.  Bake it, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the cereal is not soggy anymore.  Let them cool completely.

Place the powdered sugar in a large zipper bag and set it aside.  Melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter together in the microwave in 30 second increments.  Spread 3 C of the Chex cereal and 1 /2 C pecans out on a sheet pan.  Pour the chocolate mixture over it.  Using your hands (this is messy) mix the cereal mixture around in the chocolate until it's coated.  Put the coated cereal into the bag with powdered sugar.  Shake it around to coat all of the pieces.  Shake the pieces off and put them in a large bowl.

Add the chocolate covered cereal mixture to the bowl and add in the pretzels, marshmallows, candy corn, and Reeses Pieces. Store in zipper bags.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

One Holiday at a Time


It's that time of year again where all the stores go out of their way to rush the holidays.  They start putting Christmas stuff out practically in February.  Even my son has been trying to rush the holidays.  For the last two weeks, he's been saying it's Halloween time.  No, Son, it's still September.  Well, now that today is October 1st, that's the first thing he hit me up with.  Mom, it's Halloween.  Okay, Son.  Fine.

But really...I just want to enjoy one holiday at a time.  For October, we can enjoy the Halloween season and decorations and cooking.  November is for Thanksgiving. We don't start thinking about Christmas decorating until the day after Thanksgiving.  And December is the best month of all where we enjoy the spirit of the Christmas season.  But for now, just Halloween.

So I made this Magic Crockpot Pot Roast the other day.  It is fantastic!  The magic here is you don't add any liquid at all, but it still makes its own gravy.  Trust me, NO LIQUID.  It is so easy to make and so hearty and filling.  And don't be scared of the fact that I used Dijon mustard and horseradish here.  It doesn't taste like either one.  My family usually won't eat many leftovers, but this one disappeared.  I even went to get it to take to work for lunch, but it was gone.  It's that good. Enjoy!

MAGIC CROCKPOT POT ROAST
One 3-4 lb roast, cubed
1/2 C flour
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs baby yellow potatoes
1 T prepared horseradish
1/3 C Dijon mustard
1 T beef bouillon paste
1 T fresh thyme leaves
Salt & pepper, to taste
Olive oil

Put the roast cubes and the flour in a zipper bag.  Close the bag and shake to coat the meat.  Drizzle some olive oil into the crockpot and add in all of the ingredients, including the roast/flour mixture.  Cook the roast on low for about 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally.