Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Recipes: Asian Stirfry Chicken and Broccoli

4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon black bean sauce
4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup oil
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, minced
20 ounces frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 small bunch green onions, finely chopped
2 cups rice (4 cups cooked)
Whisk together the soy sauce, black bean sauce, brown sugar, grated ginger and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped garlic, minced chili peppers and ground coriander and cook until slightly softened and fragrant, just a couple of minutes. Add the minced chicken and cook until lightly brown and cooked through, using a spoon to break up chicken as you go. Increase the heat to high, add the soy sauce mixture and the broccoli and cook, stirring constantly until the broccoli is hot and the liquids in the pan have slightly reduced. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with sliced green onions and serve over rice. Serves 4-6.
My Notes:
I picked this up off of the Great Value website and it's actually pretty good as is. I didn't mess with this other than double the recipe because we eat a lot of it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recipes: Coke Chicken and Herbed Potatoes

Prep and cook time about 60 minutes
Makes four servings
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened to 1/4 inch thick
1 12 oz can of Coke
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey barbeque sauce
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook and additional 10 minutes until done.
Herbed Potatoes
3 large potatoes
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
2 tablespoons oil
celery salt to taste
garlic salt to taste
Preheat oven to 450. Cut unpeeled potatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Place the potato slices on well greased shallow baking pan. Brush potato slices with oil and sprinkle the herbs over the top. Bake potatoes for 20 minutes until they are well browned and crisp.
My Notes:
This recipe takes about an hour all said and done from the slicing to the prep and defrosting the frozen chicken that I like to use since it stores well. Defrost the chicken, wrap in plastic wrap to keep the chicken together while you pound it out, then drop in the pot. I serve these herbed potatoes with a lot of things because they're just super simple to make and can bake while you do other things.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Recipes: Sausage Rigatoni

Prep and cook time about 60 minutes
Makes four to six servings
19.76 ounce package Mild Italian Sausage, grilled and coin sliced
2 pounds rigatoni
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 large red bell pepper, chunked
1 26 ounce jar pasta sauce
Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese for topping
Cook pasta and sausage according to package directions. Keep warm. Saute garlic in olive oil for 30 seconds. Add peppers and cook until tender. Combine sausage with pasta sauce and peppers. Heat until warm. Mix with pasta. Top with shredded cheese.
My notes:
This works well served with garlic toast and a small salad. It reheats great, so don't worry if there's leftovers. It also freezes well so you can make TV dinners. You can drop the pasta down to a pound if you like your pasta super saucy. I like mine a little on the drier side.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recipes: Lemon Chicken and Noodles

Ready In: 60 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
1 bag frozen chicken tender strips, thawed
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
12 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 cup chicken broth
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 package wheat egg noodles
  1. Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Drain and toss with a tablespoon or two of butter.
  2. Mix flour and lemon pepper seasoning together on a plate. Coat chicken with flour mixture.
  3. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Cook chicken over medium-high heat until cooked through, browning both sides.
  4. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
  5. Add onion and cook until soft, 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Scrape up any drippings. Add lemon juice and boil until mixture is reduced by half.
  7. Remove from heat and add remaining butter.
  8. Return chicken to pan and heat through. Serve with egg noodles.
And now for my notes:
I have found that sauteing the chicken doesn't always work well for me. I put the chicken in, cook it about 5-8 minutes on one side, turn it and do the same on the other. I keep a lid on it while it's cooking so the chicken cooks entirely through, the breading stays on the chicken and not necessarily on the bottom of the pan and everyone is happy. Make sure when you add the chicken broth that you use the spoon and mix up your pan drippings into the sauce. It gives it extra flavor and makes the pan a lot easier to clean later. Giant Eagle sells frozen chicken breast tenders that work great for this recipe. I throw them in the microwave to mostly thaw them, bread them and toss them into the pan. Some of the bigger tenders I give a slice lengthwise, but otherwise they're pretty well ready to go and makes this an easy dinner on busy nights. If you don't want your sauce to break (separate the butter from the rest of the sauce), make sure you remove the sauce from the burner first. I don't know why this makes a difference but it does. I know from experience. This recipe gives one good sized meal to each person. When we're feeling extra hungry, that's when I whip out the homemade lemon cheesecake. Since I have a growing pre-teen boy, I double the recipe. It makes really good leftovers and reheats well.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Recipes: Quick Broccoli Cheese Soup

Prep and cook time about 30 minutes
Makes four cup and a half servings
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium leek, thin sliced
1 small shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons quick mixing flour
2 cups half and half
2 cups vegetable broth
1 head fresh broccoli florets (3-4 cups)
1 carrot, diced
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
precooked bacon slices
Melt butter in microwave safe casserole dish. Add leek and shallot and microwave on high 1 minute. Stir in flour and microwave 1 minute. Stir in half and half and microwave 1 minute. Add veggie broth, broccoli, and carrot, microwave 10 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted. Cover and microwave 2 minutes. Top with bacon and serve hot.
My notes:
This recipe originally came with a pasta and more, but I don't see why it couldn't be used with a casserole dish. We eat this with bread to dip in the soup. It's pretty filling. This doesn't really reheat all that great since it becomes watery. You're better off making it fresh more than once and since it really only takes half an hour, you should be good.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Let's talk about obesity

I just read an NPR article on obesity, which led me to two articles about obesity. All three of these articles say we need to eat less and that would solve all of our obesity problems. Maybe, just MAYBE the problem is that foods that are good for you are expensive, go bad quickly if you don't use them, require more frequent store trips BECAUSE they will go bad quickly if you don't use them, foods that DON'T go bad as quickly contain too much salt, and take more time too cook/prepare. Let's look at that! Most poor people have to take the bus to and from their jobs and the store. If I didn't have a car, a trip to work on the bus would take me two hours. Then it would be two hours home again IF I got off work before I had to call a cab. Sometimes cabs take three hours to get there even when you call them to show up. So we work 8-10 hour days, have a 4 hour trip time, making our days 12-14 hour days. That leaves two hours to cook, clean and do basic body maintenance if we want eight hours of sleep. Most of us go on less than that.
Are we seeing where taking an hour to prepare a meal just doesn't fit in with our lives? And our days off are spent cleaning up the week's worth of crazy and doing our shopping... something that might take an hour bus trip... We NEED those foods to last and to be quick and easy to prepare.
Then we can look at cost. When rent is 500 bucks a month for a halfway decent place OR MORE... and we're working two part time jobs at minimum wage to make our rent and bills, how the hell are we supposed to feed ourselves? Maybe our bodies are packing on extra fat because it thinks we're starving. Most of us don't eat regularly enough, sometimes we have one meal a day, sometimes less... So say we're lucky enough to have a 40 hour a week job paying us 7.50 an hour. That's 300 a week. 1200 a month. Rent is 500, water is at least 50, electric is around 100, gas is 100 a month if we drive, a bus pass is 50-80, insurance on a car is 100 a month if we drive. Most of us have to have a telephone, so that's about 50 bucks we shell out a month. So already our expenses are at 800 a month if we drive, 680 if we ride the bus. They take money out of our checks for taxes, so that 1200 is down to about 900. So that leaves us 220 bucks a month for groceries, clothes and toiletries. You know, like toilet paper. New work pants. Soap and shampoo. if you drive, that leaves you with nothing. Absolutely nothing for food. And gods forbid if your car needs new tires, brakes, oil or has any kind of mechanical trouble.
Let's look at this a little bit. Maybe we should look deeper into the fact that we're in trouble here and maybe obesity is just a bi-product of poor culture and that a lot more people in this country are poor than we realize. Let's look at the schools who teach us the 3 R's, but don't educate us about cooking, cleaning, finances... things we really need to survive. Sometimes our parents don't know these things, either. They're going on what they've done to get by. Maybe we should look at that. Perhaps it's also a product of our culture that we expect things like this to go away overnight. Maybe we expect to take a pill and have it just work.There are a LOT of problems and the knot is what obesity has become. There are so many tangled threads that make up our bodies that it's pathetic and trying to point the finger at a symptom does NOTHING to solve the issues leading into it.
If I can go buy four cheeseburgers and four fries for five bucks and take it home to my family for a meal instead of spending 15 on a dinner that I have to cook myself and eat right before I go to bed to start another day, I'd do it just so I had some time to chill out and relax. Nowhere in there is there time for people to take a break, chill out and relax. Maybe we're fat because we're stressed out all the time about money and food and eating and working out and how people think about us and on and on and ON...  Add another thread to the knot that is obesity.
People seem to think that obesity is because you're lazy. Nothing in the above statements leads me to believe that anyone in this situation is lazy. They're mentally taxed out and eventually that takes its toll.
Start looking at solving the causes and maybe we'll solve the problems.
Oh wait, that costs money.
Some of the articles in question:

Never really gets easier

Story time since it's on my mind and I wanted to share and ask a little extra patience.  May 20th. Mary and I are at a local garden shop...