Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Parmesan Pesto Chicken & Veggies (Sheet Pan)

STORY:
In my journey towards better health and away from my (beloved) bad habits, I keep looking for easy and healthy family dinners.  Enter the new popular Sheet Pan Dinners.  I've only tried a couple different versions, but I've made this one twice and I'm making it again tomorrow.  My kids all love it.  Even the picky 7 year old boy.  The 15 year old boy says it's one of his favorite dinners. So yay!

I found an amazing food blog that every single picture looks like something I want to try! Like seriously incredible. I'm not sure I'm ever going to need to go to a different website for meal ideas.  It's called Carlsbad Cravings and that's where I came across this tasty dish that I'm adding to my little family blog tonight.  Here is the link to the recipe on their site.  I'm just adding it here for easy reference because, like I said, delicious and easy... and I almost always have every ingredient on hand.

Besides, my oldest child is almost a senior in high school (!) which means she may be living on her own soon which means she might want access to recipes that she already knows and loves which means I need to make sure I am adding more here for her easy reference...

INGREDIENTS:
Chicken & Veggies
2 C red potatoes, cut up no bigger than 1/2" to 1" pieces
1 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into 1 1/2" chunks; breasts or thighs
3 C broccoli, medium sized florets
1 C thinly sliced carrots
1/2 C Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Pesto Mix/Sauce:
1/3 C basil pesto (I always keep a jar of the Costco jar in my fridge... it's good on a dozen things!)
1 T olive oil
2 t ranch dry seasoning mix
3-4 minced garlic cloves (Some people may not like it as much as fresh, but for convenience, I always have a big bottle of minced garlic in my fridge)
2 t dijon mustard
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk together all the pesto mix ingredients in a large bowl.
Line a large jelly roll pan/oversized cookie sheet (10x15) with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
Put 2 tablespoons of the pesto mix and the potatoes in a bowl.  Toss to evenly coat.  Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop up the chicken, broccoli, and carrots.  Toss them in the bowl with the remaining pesto mix and really get in there and coat everything really well.
Remove the baking sheet with the potatoes from the oven and scoot all the potatoes to one side, while keeping in a single layer.  Then spread the chopped and coated chicken and veggies on the pan, again, in a single layer.
Return to the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove again and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.
Return to the oven for 5 more minutes, checking for doneness.

While it's good to go just like this, Ben usually likes some sort of a grain with it.  So with this kind of meal, I'd usually just do up some rice or quinoa to go with it.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Roasted Green Beans

Story:
You know it's bad when your teenagers say they don't think we are eating enough vegetables.  Oops.  I go through stages with a lot of my cooking, and apparently, veggies have taken a back seat to convenience lately.  I was humbled enough to know they spoke truth and I am now trying to feed my family (including myself) more veggies!  I tend to be a fan of fresh veggies.  Never canned, occasionally frozen.  But sometimes I feel stumped on what to do besides steaming broccoli again, ya feel?  So I've been perusing the internet and the bottomless pit of ideas called Pinterest for new ideas on preparing vegetables.  I know I can pin the good ones (and I do), but I hate all the ads... so I'm back here on the blog to post some of my favorite finds in order to remember and access the real "keepers" in one safe place.

So that is why I am bringing to you today this recipe for Roasted Green Beans.  YUM!  The first time I made them, Ethan (now 15), went over to the leftovers on the pan and asked, as he was picking them up and eating them right there over the counter, "Why are these so good??"  Yes, green beans.  I found the recipe here.  I didn't do much to tweak it or anything.  It's good just as it is.

I've served them with a tangy pork roast. I've served them with chicken.  Tonight I'll be doing up a batch to go with leftover Easter ham.  They are always good!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 pounds fresh green beans
1-2 T olive oil (enough to lightly coat the beans)
1 or 1 1/2  t kosher salt
1/2 t fresh ground pepper (8-10 turns of the grinder)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400ยบ.
I like to put down parchment paper on my roasting pan (large cookie sheet).
Wash the beans, trim, and pat dry.
Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Get in there with your hands and make sure the beans are all coated nicely.
Spread in a single layer on the roasting pan.
Roast for about 15 minutes, and turn.
Roast for another 10, to your desired doneness.
They should be a little bit shriveled and have some brown spots.

That's it!  I hope you like them as much as Ethan did.

Note:
I saw that some people liked to cook them a little less.
I saw that some people like them with a squeeze of lemon.
I saw that some people like them with parmesan cheese.
All of these options sound great!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Chicken & Carrot Crockpot Dinner

Story:

My Tuesday and Thursday afternoons can be a little hectic around my house.  And sadly, we don't always get to sit down and eat all together as a big, happy family. (Because that's what our daily family dinners are mostly like, right?  Nothing but laughter and good times...  certainly no picky eaters or teasing siblings or tired momma or anything like that... We try.)  Anyway, for this season, I am trying to put together crockpot meals on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, so even if we don't all sit down together, there is still a good meal ready for my hungry people.

And if I'm feeling a little low on ideas, what's the logical thing to do?  Pinterest, right?  So the recipe I am sharing here kind of came off Pinterest, but I read the comments and made some adaptations to it, and guess what... the kids loved it! Win!

Truth be told, I kinda threw it together before I had to leave for a staff meeting, so all measurements are estimates... but it's kind of one of those things that can't really get messed up.  I'm mostly adding it to the blog because the kids liked it and it was easy and I'd love to do it again.

Ingredients:
Chicken breasts or tenderloins (I used 5 thin-cut breasts that I cut into strips.)
Onions (I sliced 2 smallish ones)
Potatoes (I used 1 big one, because that's all I had.  3 would probably be good.)
Carrots (I used 6 or 7 big carrots, cut into quarters/sticks.  Baby carrots would be fine.)*
Chicken broth (I poured a little more than a cup in, just something wet for the chicken to cook in.)
Cube of butter
2 T minced garlic
1 t parsley
1 t thyme
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Directions:
Layer in the chicken, then onions, then potatoes, then carrots.
Pour the broth over it all, until you feel satisfied that the chicken won't be too dry.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add all the seasonings.
Pour the melted butter mixture over everything in the crockpot.

Cook on low.  I don't have an exact time, but 6-8 hours should be plenty.

Note:
The carrots were actually my kids favorite part.  I may add even more of them next time.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies -- a new favorite

Story:

When we were young, my big brother and I used to make cookies on Sunday afternoons on a regular basis.  And if I remember correctly, I hated rolling the cookies on the trays, and he hated doing the dishes.  So that became kind of the deal: I would do all the clean up, if he put them on the sheets and and baked them.  I think that part just took too long for me and I hated waiting around the kitchen for each batch to come out.  This recipe was one that I remember making with him.  And I also remember occasionally delivering them to certain boys on Sunday evenings.  Heehee.  Fun memories.

This was one of my mom's recipes, originally called: Three-Way Oatmeal Cookies.  The idea is to, after you make the dough, divide it into three sections, adding 1 cup of raisins to one part, 1 cup of chocolate chips to the second part, and 1 cup of butterscotch chips to the third part.  So it's like you make three different kinds of cookies, with just one batch!  Great idea... but I've grown a little too lazy.  So I just turned the whole thing into one big batch of oatmeal raisin cookies... and I've added the measurements of cinnamon and nutmeg too, to meet my preference.

We recently found ourselves without chocolate chips on a Sunday afternoon, so we gave these a try.  Everyone liked them... and I think it was just kind of a nice way to mix things up after years of Ben's Triple C cookies on Sundays. Tasty little things.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 C shortening
2 C brown sugar
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C water
2 t vanilla
2 C flour
2 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
6 C rolled oats
2 1/2 - 3 C raisins

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients in the order listed.  (I usually switch from the beaters to the kneaders when it's time to put in the oats and raisins.)

Spoon onto baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 11-12 minutes.

Note:
My husband and I have kept up the Sunday cookie tradition.  But now, when we put them away on Sunday nights, we divide them up into a bunch of sandwich baggies and stick them all in a container in the freezer so they are ready to throw into the lunchboxes in the mornings.  These cookies, in particular, thaw nicely.  We hope you like them too!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cream Tuna Fish & Peas on Toast

Story:
Cream Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast.  Really? Sounds weird, I know.  But I grew up having this dinner and I always loved it.  I haven't made it for a while, and the other day my kids were asking for it.  It is super good, everyone loves it, and I always have the ingredients on hand.  I'm making it tonight, and my kids are looking forward to it!

Growing up, I don't think any of my friends' families EVER ate this.  I guess I kind of wondered if my mom's mom made it up.  But I just looked it up online, and found several recipes for it and several comments of people who grew up in big families eating this when money was tight.  Kind of a frugal, generational type dish, I guess.  On my quick search online, I found a few different variations on how to make the white sauce; below is my mom's version.

It's basically just a white sauce.  Add tuna.  Add frozen peas.  Serve over toast!  That's it.

Ingredients:
4 T butter
4 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper (error on a little less than more)
2 C milk
1 can tuna (or two if they are the really little ones--has anyone noticed that Costco small cans are 7 oz, and the grocery stores are 5oz??)
frozen peas (as many as desired; I throw in a lot)

Directions:
Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan.  Blend in the flour and the seasonings.  Cook over low heat, stirring until the mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the milk.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for one minute.  (Makes 2 cups of sauce.)
Add 1 can of well-drained tuna fish.  Stir into the sauce.  Add as many frozen peas as you want.  And warm through.
Serve over toast.

TIP: We love using PIZZA CUTTERS for lots of things.  For cutting up our waffles, pancakes, and of course pizza.  This is another time we use the pizza cutter to quickly and easily cut the sauce-covered toast up into nice sized bites.  Just an idea...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Korean: Ddeokbokki (spicy rice cake)

Story:
As I've mentioned before, my husband and I both served a mission for our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in Seoul, South Korea.  Of course, we weren't married then... but AFTER the missions, we started dating and we were married not long after.  People often ask us if we speak Korean to each other.  It would be great if we did, but, well, English is a whole lot easier!  But we DO try sometimes.  And we do try to read scriptures in Korean.  And we have been known to occasionally get somewhat addicted to Korean dramas.  And we do LOVE Korean food.  For the record, I will admit that I was the world's pickiest eater before I lived in Korea for over a year (and I *may* have shed a tear when I was assigned to serve in Korea...mostly for fear of the food).  But now, the smell of kimchi makes my mouth water and I keep dried seaweed in my pantry at all times.

I took a quick trip to the Asian Market last week to purchase some of the aforementioned kimchi... and I saw some dduk (pressed rice cakes) sitting there in a bag waiting for me to take some home to make ddeokbokki.  Yum.  It's not the healthiest of Korean foods (probably why I like it and my husband not-so-much), but it is tasty (and not too scary for you new-food-a-phobics).  I'm going to make some tomorrow, and I wanted to go ahead and record the recipe here for easy access.  I found a Korean food blog that is pretty fun... www.maangchi.com ... which is where I found this ddeokbokki recipe.  I will record my simplified adaptation here (namely, I will not make the kelp and anchovy broth that she does... I'm sure it's awesome, but I'll just go with chicken broth.  Sorry Maangchi! I'm sure it's fab.)  And I'll go for the milder flavor recipe, because it might be tricky enough to get my kids to try it, and if it's too spicy, then it certainly won't fly.

Ingredients:
tube-shaped rice cakes for ddeokbokki
4 (to 6) T hot pepper paste
1 T sugar
4 green onions, cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces
4 C chicken broth

Directions:
Bring 4 cups of chicken broth to a boil.
Add the rice cakes (about a pound).
Add 4-6 tablespoons of the hot pepper paste and about 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Stir constantly.  Stir until the sauce is thick and the rice cake is shiny.
Transfer onto a plate to serve.

*I've only made it once, and it was great.  If it turns out okay tomorrow, I will add a picture here!* 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rice Krispies Treats... maybe the best thing ever.

Story:

Yes, I am actually posting just the good ol' fashioned original Rice Krispies Treat recipe.  It might seem boring... but these treats are everyone's favorite, right?

Besides, if I put the recipe here, then maybe I'll remember to make these little squares of happy gooey-ness more often!

Also besides, I admittedly often buy the generic brand of Rice Krispies, and generic brands don't have the recipe on the box.  So, I usually have to go online and look up the measurements again. Perhaps a "real cook" wouldn't need measurements, but as stated before, I am no "real cook"... just a recipe follower.

Besides (again), this recipe does have one secret ingredient.  Some years ago when I was on a Rice Krispies Treat making kick, I took some to my friend Traci.  She said her kids ate them and were like, "Whoa! These are good!"  And she was like: "What? I make Rice Krispies Treats all the time." And they were like, "No, these are different!"

Vanilla.  It's the vanilla, guys.  It takes our traditional little sweet treat to a new level.  Seriously.

Ingredients:

4 T (1/2 stick) butter
4 C mini marshmallows OR 1 (10-oz) package of regular-sized marshmallows
1 t vanilla extract (recipe said "optional" -- I say it is not optional.  Just do it.)
6 C Rice Krispies cereal (or equivalent)

Directions:

Butter a 9x13 baking dish.
In a large pan, melt the butter over low heat.
Add the marshmallows and stir until the mixture is all melted and smooth.
Take off the heat.
Stir in the vanilla.
Add the cereal. Stir until the cereal is all coated evenly.
Spread the mixture into the buttered pan. I like to pat it in with a spatula (sometimes having to butter up the spatula a little bit first).
Let them cool and then cut them into squares.

Like I said... always a fave.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mom's Beef Stew

Story:
This is the beef stew I grew up with.  It still reminds me of home.  And my mom.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs beef cubes
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/2 inch slices
1 or 2 onions, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and quartered (or eighth-ed)
1 pkg frozen peas
1 can golden mushroom soup
1/2 can of water
1 t salt
dash of pepper
1 bay leaf

Directions:
Combine all ingredients (except the peas) in a crock pot.
Cook on high for five hours.
Add peas last 10 minutes or so, before serving.

Delicious and comforting.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Wassail

Story:
What is wassail, you ask?  The first answer is: "Here we come a'wassailing, tralalalalala..."  The second answer is it's apple cider with a citrus twist.  It is yummy.  But I almost like the smell just as much as the flavor.  Mmmm.  Smells like Christmas.

This recipe is from Ben's Aunt Kendalyn.  Love her.

I've started making this when our family watches the First Presidency Christmas Devotional on the first Sunday of December every year.  We like inviting friends over to watch it with us... and it's a fun way to usher in the Christmas spirit.

Ingredients:
*Spices:
1/2 C brown sugar
2 C water
5 whole cloves
4 allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 piece ginger root

*Beverage:
2 C orange juice (or pineapple juice)
1 C lemonade
1 qt apple cider (or apple juice)

Directions:
Combine all the spices in a small pot.  Bring to a boil.  Then cover and simmer about an hour.
Then add all the spices to the liquids.  I like to combine everything in my crock pot and serve it out of there.  Like Aunt Kendy says, "It's like havina potpourri you get to drink!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shrimp Tacos

Story:
We love fish tacos.  Ben especially loves shrimp tacos.  We make them like our fish tacos (corn tortillas, maybe some cabbage, etc) but Ben has learned a few ideas to make them even yummier!

One benefit of Ben's work (as a physical therapist) is he works with all kinds of people.  All kinds of people in all kinds of professions.  He recently worked with a professional chef.  With how much Ben likes food, they had a lot to talk about.  Ben told him how much he likes fish tacos, so this man gave Ben a few fun tips/recipes.

Guac-Sauce
Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado
1 small can salsa verde
1 dallop sour cream

Directions:
Mash the avocado and stir in the salsa verde and sour cream.  Just spoon over the fish/shrimp on your taco.

Pickled Red Onions
Ingredients:
1 red onion, chopped
2 t oil
2 ounces rice vinegar (that's what Ben wrote down... seriously? 2 oz?  I dunno... maybe a "splash")
1 T sugar
pinch of salt

Directions:
Heat the oil in a pan.  Add the chopped onion and cook in oil for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes.  Add the "splash" of rice vinegar and the sugar and the salt.  Simmer for 7-8 minutes.

Shrimp Tacos
Ben prepares the shrimp.  I don't know how.
But lightly pan-toast up a corn tortilla, place a few shrimp onto it, then some thinly-sliced cabbage, some guac sauce, and some pickled red onions... voila!  The best-ever shrimp tacos!
OH! And the LIME!  One of Ben's all-time favorite accent flavors... lime wedges.  Feel free to squeeze some yummy limes over the top.  Mmmm.

NOTES:
I especially love the red onions.  They add a nice crunch.  The chef said you can keep them in the fridge for a week or so and use them on lots of dishes.  One day, I didn't have any fish done up, but I put some shredded cabbage on a plate with the guac-sauce and the red onions over it and ate it like a salad.  Even that was good (and simple!)