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Greek Nachos!

First of all, sorry for the hiatus.  My excuse is that I was pregnant and pregnancy nausea meant that I ate a lot of soda crackers and not much else…  And now I have a baby (one that cries) so I can’t promise I’ll be making a ton of food from scratch anytime soon.  Oh, and I don’t have a kitchen, which also poses a problem.

Let me explain.  The husband and I moved to Canada a few months ago.  We are living in a basement suite that currently does not include a kitchen.  Luckily, there is a kitchen available to us upstairs in the main house, but it just isn’t the same.

Anyways… that’s enough of a recap.  Yesterday, I watched “The Next Iron Chef” (maybe that’s not what the show’s called…) and chef Robert Irving made a ‘hotburg’ where he ground up hotdogs and mixed them in with ground meat to make a hamburger.  Yuck, right?  Well Alton Brown didn’t think so.  Robert said that nobody had mixed hotdogs and hamburgers in this way before, and Alton exclaimed “Well if they’re not, they should!” And that’s pretty much how I feel about last night’s dinner: Greek Nachos.

Greek Nachos, basic gyro ingredients in Nacho form, was something I came across on Pinterest (which if you have never checked out, you should).  And. It’s. Delicious.

a-mediterranean-twist-on-a-classic-greek-nachos.jpg

 

Greek Nachos:

Pita Chips:

– Pita bread (or other type of flat bread.  You don’t need the opening in the middle) cut into triangles and torn in half

– Olive oil

– Parmesan Cheese

– Parsley

– Cumin

– Salt

Preheat the oven to 350.  Drizzle the Pita pieces in oil and then lay them out on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with cheese, parsley, cumin and salt.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until crispy.

Meat:

– 1 lb ground lamb (or beef)

– 1 tbsp cumin

– 2 gloves of garlic, minced

– salt

– Juice of one lemon

In a saucepan, cook the ground meat until no longer red.  Add in the minced garlic, lemon juice, cumin, and salt to taste.  Continue cooking until meat is browned.

Tzatziki Sauce:

– 2 cups plain Greek yogurt

– 2 tbsp dill

– 1/2 a cucumber, grated (squeeze out the excess water if you are making the sauce significantly ahead of time, if you are going to use it all right away, it won’t matter)

– 2 gloves of garlic, minced

– Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

To make the nachos:

Layer the pita chips, meat, sauce, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, and feta cheese.  While they don’t stick together with the cheddar cheese of traditional nachos and you will probably resort to eating them with a fork, they are delicious (and easy enough to make with a newborn in one arm)!


Enchiladas Verdes

 

These aren’t your typical “Enchiladas.”  Or at least they aren’t what I normally think of when I think Enchilada… Instead, they are more like tacos… Anyways, this one authentic recipe.  I hope you’ll like it!

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small white onion

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add the chicken, garlic and onion and poach in boiling water until chicken is cooked through.  Drain the water (or reserve as a chicken stock) and shred and salt the chicken.  Set aside.

  • 1 lb tomatillos (green tomatoes), casings removed, rinsed
  • 1 to 3 jalapenos
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 a small onion, chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Add the tomatillos and the jalapenos.  Cook until tomatoes are soft.  Place all the ingredients in a blender with 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Pulse until blended.  Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet.  Pour in the salsa and heat 5 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, heat corn tortillas in oil in a small skillet, then with tongs, dunk them into the salsa.  Fill with chicken and roll up.  Repeat.  Serve with shredded lettuce, Mexican cheese, sour cream, cilantro, and additional salsa verde.

I forget to get a picture of the finished product… sorry.

 


Artichoke Spinach Dip

Let me draw your attention to the boat shaped dish in the middle of this photograph.  Inside resides the most delicious dip you have ever tasted.  It is so good, I could eat it for weeks straight.  Unfortunately, it never lasts that long.  Enjoy this Artichoke Spinach Dip!

Artichoke Spinach Dip (“Family Circle”)

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pkg (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 jar (6 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 pint sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large skillet, melt butter over med heat.  Add the onion and saute until golden.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Stir in the spinach, artichoke hearts, creams cheese, sour cream, 1 cup of the cheddar, the parmesan and the spices.

2.  Place the mixture in an ovenproof 2 qt dish and top with the remaining cheddar.  Bake for 10 min.  Serve with raw vegetables and crackers.


Italian Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables

I don’t know why, but I assume that cooking good quality food has to be complicated… and so hard that half of your kitchen has exploded and you’ve singed off your eyebrows by the time your done.  Well, my friends, it doesn’t have to be that way!  This recipe, which I’ve adapted from “Woman’s Day” is about as easy and clean as it gets.  I think this is even easier to make than Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  And, it’s good too!  Like, really good.

Italian Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables

  • 4 small drumsticks
  • 4 red potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 large bell peppers, cut into 3/4 in wedges, mine was yellow
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/2 in slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup olives, halved (optional)
  • Balsamic vinegar to drizzle on at the end.

1.  Preheat the oven to 500F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Spread meat and veggies onto the pan.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.

3. Roast 15 min.  Remove from the oven, toss, and roast another 15 min, or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are tender.

4. Remove from the oven.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olives.


Grilled Chicken Tacos

Sometimes you just have to cheat.

I cheated big time with these grilled chicken tacos… first of all, they were supposed to be FISH TACOS!  I hate fish (which is weird considering I grew up on an island… but there you have it) so I used chicken instead.  Secondly, they are supposed to be grilled but my husband wasn’t home from work yet and I was hungry… so I just used the George Foreman.  Why didn’t I just get the BBQ out myself and do it properly? you might be wondering.  Well, I have no good excuse.  The truth is I’m scared of the BBQ.  I fear it blowing up in my face.  I know it’s stupid…

Anyways, despite my shortcuts, these were pretty good.  If you can grill them though, do it.

Grilled Chicken Tacos (adapted from “The Culinary Institute of America: Grilling”)

  • 8 flour tortillas

Chicken:

  • 2 lbs chicken breast (or mahi-mahi if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • Salt, to taste

1. Cut meat into sixteen equal pieces.  Combine all ingredients and marinate the chicken in it.  Grill over medium heat (2 minutes per side for the fish, until the juices run clear for the chicken).  Grill the tortillas until they have grill marks (15 sec per side).

Southwestern Slaw:

  • 2 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp minced red onion
  • 2 tsp minced jalapenos
  • 2 tsp chopped cilantro
  • Salt, to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients.  Allow the mixture to marinate for 30 min (up to 8 hours).

Chipotle Pico de Gallo:

  • 1 cup medium-dice tomato, seeded
  • 4 tsp red onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 canned chipotle pepper, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, minced

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well.  This can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Mexican Crema:

  • 1/2 Mexican Sour Cream (or regular sour cream if you can’t find this)
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
  • 2 tsp lime juice

1.  Combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Use immediately or refrigerate up to 2 days.

To assemble the tacos, put 2 slices of chicken or fish in each tortilla.  Top with Southwestern Slaw, Chipotle Pico de Gallo and drizzle with Mexican Crema.


Cranberry Walnut Muffins

Hello!  I’m sorry I’m so bad at blogging these days.

I want you to know how much I love fall!  I fell like I can’t properly bake anything in the summer because it’s just too hot, but as soon as the leaves change colour and the temperature drops, I can’t help BUT be in my kitchen.  My family came down from Canada and we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving dinner with them.  We also went down to Arches National Park in Moab.  It wasn’t fall there…

Anyways, I was so excited when they all left and I realized I had leftover cranberries… AND a brand new recipe to try out.  These Cranberry Walnut Muffins are for grow-up tastes because the cranberries can be a bit sour, but I thought they were wonderful.

I’m not usually a huge fan of nuts, but they were good here.  I have to admit that when I was picking up the walnuts at the store, I looked at them and then at the much more expensive pecans and couldn’t tell the difference between the two.  I mean, I’ve always known that there were nuts called walnuts and other nuts called pecans… but really… what’s the difference?  I think I’ll stick with the cheap ones!  That being said, I’m sure you could substitute pecans in this recipe if you, unlike me, care and know the difference between the two.

Cranberry Walnut Muffins (adapted from “The Family Baker”)

  • 1 large egg at room temp.
  • 1 cup orange or peach yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp orange extract (optional)
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the over to 400F.  Grease muffin cups (or use the paper muffin cups).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, sugar, butter, orange extract and zest.  Sift in the dry ingredients.  Stir JUST to blend.  Gradually stir in the cranberries and nuts.

3. Divide the batter among twelve muffin cups.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake for 20-22 min.  Cool in the pans for 15 min. then finish cooling on a wire rack.

* Wheat Cranberry Walnut Muffins: Substitute  1 cup of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour.


Caramel Apple Cake

Summer seems to have finally left us here in Orem.  I say that after only two days of rain and clouds.  Perhaps my judgments are a bit premature, but I really and truly hope that autumn is here.  Why?  Why would anyone hope the sun away?  Well, I love changing seasons.  I can’t help feeling tired of summer and ready for fall.  Plus, my fall decorations look stupid when it’s still 100 degrees outside.  AND… with the advent of fall, I can finally cook fall food.  Here’s a great fall recipe:

Caramelized Apple Cake

(Family Circle)

Makes 10 servings – 2 hours

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup plus 5 tbsp butter, softened and divided
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.

2. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a med. bowl.  Set aside. In a large bowl, cream ½ cup of butter and granulated sugar.

3. Add the eggs and the vanilla.  Blend in the flour mixture.  Blend in the sour cream.

4.  In an oven-proof 10 inch skillet, melt the remaining 5 tbsp of butter.  Add the brown sugar.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Add the apple slices.  Reduce the heat to med-low.  Cook 10 minutes or until the apples are tender.  Let it cool 5 min.

5. Spoon the batter over the apples and spread it to the edges of the pan.  Bake for 30 min.  Cool on a rack for 20 min.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and carefully invert the cake onto a plate.


Meal Planning

So, I promised that I would keep doing this and then I stopped doing it!  Oops.. Well, last week, this is what I planned (if you’re lucky I’ll blog about these meals… maybe…)

  • Chicken Artichoke Risotto
  • Pork Fried Rice
  • Provencal Chicken and Herb Penne
  • Chinese Noodle Soup
  • Blackberry Ice Cream

And then for this week:

  • Chicken Murphy
  • Tex-Mex Turkey Burgers
  • Italian Rosemary Chicken
  • Asian Beef and Veggies
  • Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Soup
  • Broccoli Ginger Beef

Chicken Murphy

I know it’s been too long since my last blog.  Because it’s been a few weeks, now I feel bogged down with a million recipes to write about and an internet connection that is temperamental at best.  You have my sincere apologies and a pledge to get back on track.  Here’s what we had for dinner tonight:

You’ll notice that there is a side of asparagus on my plate.  Asparagus is one of those foods that my young, uncultivated tongue didn’t appreciate.  I used to call them “aspara-guts.”  Saute them in butter and garlic and they don’t taste anything like guts… well, at least I don’t think they do.

Chicken Murphy (adapted from “Family Circle”)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 4 hot red peppers, seeded and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 a sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 cup of uncooked orzo (cook this like you cook rice with a 2 to 1 ration of water to orzo)

Heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned.  Stir in the tomatoes and liquid, salt and pepper.  Break up the tomatoes using the back of a wooden spoon.  Cook over med-high heat for 3 minutes.  Add the chicken, peppers and onion.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir and cook for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Serve on a bed of cooked orzo.


Homemade Ice Cream!

Frozen Caramel Custard

Have you ever tried to make ice cream in your freezer without an ice cream maker and ended up with a clump of ice crystals? Well, this recipe is not for that!

When I was five, I asked Santa Claus for an ice cream maker. He couldn’t find one, so I got a Teddy Bear instead. The next year, he succeeded and I got my ice cream maker. Needless to say, the Teddy Bear got lots more love and use that the ice cream maker. Now, I’ve learned that I don’t need one. Neither do you.

Frozen Caramel Custard (adapted from “Simple Secrets to Better Everyday Cooking”)

  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 5 beaten egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder (available in bulk food sections)
  • dash salt
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • caramel shards for a garnish

Caramel:

In a small heavy saucepan, cook the granulated sugar over med-high heat until the sugar begins to melt, shaking the pot occasionally.  DO NOT STIR.  Reduce the heat to low and cook until sugar is melted and golden brown.  At this point you can and should stir it with a wooden spoon.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Carefully stir in the 1/2 cup whipping cream.  If a large lump of sugar forms (it did for me) heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently until the lump dissolves.  This can take 15 min.

Ice Cream

In a medium saucepan, combine egg yolks, milk, dry milk powder, and salt.  Cook over low-med heat, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon, or until the it is just beginning to look like a custard.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the 2 cups of whipping cream.  Add the caramel and brown sugar and vanilla.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.  Cool custard in the refrigerator until completely cool.

Place it in an ice cream machine, or in a large metal bowl.  Cover securely.  Place in the freezer.  Every 40 min, take the bowl out of the freezer, using a spatula or spoon, scrape the frozen edges, and beat with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.  Repeat this every 40 min for 5 to 6 hours or until the ice cream is firm.  Garnish with caramel shards.

Caramel shards

Cook 3/4 cup of sugar in the same way you did for the caramel above.  When it is melted, remove from heat and add in 1 tsp of water.  Immediately pour the sugar on a lined and greased baking sheet.  Spread it as thin as possible.  Let it set up for 30 min.  With the back of a metal spoon, break it into shards.