Saturday, October 31, 2009

Caramel Apple Bites

Happy Halloween!

We needed to bring a treat to our neighborhood party. Caramel apples are one of my favorite treats, but who wants to eat an entire caramel apple at a party? They are messy and large, leaving the eater with a sticky face and a belly too full to sample other treats.

My solution: caramel apple bites.

I cored and quartered the apples. Then, I melted a bag of caramels and 2 Tablespoons of milk over medium low heat in a sauce pan. I poked a stick in each apple quarter and coated it in caramel. The apple bites were refrigerated until we went to the party.

They did not look as pretty as whole caramel apples, but they tasted just as good.

Friday, October 30, 2009

California Tuna Salad- No Mayo!

Traditionally, I do not like tuna salad. Canned meat coated in mayonnaise is not appealing.
Tuna is controversial because of the potentially high mercury content. Experts seem to agree that this is not a problem if eaten in moderation. Tuna is also a cheap source of omega 3 fatty acids and protein.
Several years ago, I came across a recipe for California Tuna Salad in The Family Circle Cookbook published in 1992 by Simon and Schuster. I was intrigued by the combination of some of my favorite ingredients: lime, honey, cumin, avocado, and roasted peppers. Mayonnaise was no where on the list!
I made this salad for our lunch today, and served it with some torn spinach on wheat bread. I thought the light meal would be a nice contrast to the lasagna we had for dinner last night- and will have again tonight.
Clearly, Jacob did not enjoy the sandwich. Maybe this was because I accidentally put an entire can of water chestnuts in the salad instead of only half a can. While half of an 8oz can would give the salad a nice crunch, the entire can was overpowering. I still enjoyed mine, at least.

1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid red pepper seasoning
1 ripe avocado
2 cans (6 1/2 oz each) tuna packed in water, drained
half of a 7oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
1/2 of a 8oz can water chestnuts, diced
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley

Whisk together lime rind, juice, oil, honey, cumin, salt and red pepper seasoning. Pit and peel avocado; cube. Toss in dressing.
Flake tuna into bowl with the avocado and dressing. Add red pepper, water chestnuts, and cilantro. Toss to combine. Serve chilled.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lasagna and Oven Roasted Green Beans

Making dinner tonight was an accomplishment; I never thought I would get it done. Jacob was unreasonably grumpy, and I found myself trying to layer sauce, pasta, cheese, and vegetables while holding Jacob, pulling a string on his toy dog, and wearing a hard hat. Many times I gave up and left the kitchen holding a screaming, squirming toddler.

Mr. Grumpy Pants was not my only obstacle. I grabbed the box of lasagna noodles only to find four and a half noodles left. I needed six! Later, I pulled the foil from the box and only got a three inch sheet. How would I cover the 9x13" pan with that little sliver of foil? I improvised with an upside-down cookie sheet.

Finally, I managed to pull the lasagna together and get it in the oven. Jacob even helped me sprinkle on some mozzarella. Never mind that it had only four and a half noodles and was covered with an inverted cookie sheet instead of foil. We were on our way to having a delicious spicy-gross-mixture for dinner.

I made a variation of a lasagna recipe my mom has made for years (she found it on the internet before getting recipes off the internet was cool). The noodles do not have to be precooked: a small amount of water poured around the edge of the pan and a tight covering of foil ensure the noodles are cooked to perfection right in the pan.

I used lean, organic ground beef and cooked it with a small, diced onion. I also added two cooked and diced links of hot turkey sausage to the sauce, which was a nice twist. To add some extra vegetables, I included a layer of baby spinach and a layer of eggplant. (Art didn't notice the eggplant. So, if you are generally not a fan, don't be afraid to go ahead and add it.) The spinach cooked in the lasagna and needed no preparation. I peeled and thinly sliced a small eggplant. I sprinkled each piece with salt and pepper and sauteed in olive oil about 1 minute per side.
Instead of using store bought spaghetti sauce, I made my own.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz tomato paste (put the other half of the can in a container and freeze for another use)
3 15oz cans tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and stir until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. I also use this sauce in other pasta dishes.

For a side dish, I roasted green beans in the oven. This has been our favorite side dish for a while.

green beans, washed and trimmed (snap off the ends)
drizzle of olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

Lightly grease a metal pan. Spread beans in a single layer over pan and drizzle with oil. Shake to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in oven preheated to whatever temperature the main dish is cooking- in this case, 375 degrees- until tender, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cheddar Garlic Bacon Biscuits and Discovery

Art and I like to try new food. If we see an item on the menu we do not recognize, one of us will sometimes order it. Or, if we see unfamiliar produce at the store, we will sometimes buy it. Amazing food that we've never before encountered is waiting to be discovered.

We want to pass this curiosity on to Jacob.

Today, Jacob and I tried an Oro Blanco Grapefruit for the first time. Outside, it looked like an unusually large green grapefruit. Inside, it looked like a typical grapefruit with really thick skin. The flesh was not bitter like regular grapefruit. Jacob ate half of it. If I had left any of my half, he probably would have eaten that, too.

After this exciting adventure into the culinary unknown, we had last night's completely familiar lentil soup for dinner. I also made biscuits. But these were not just any biscuits. They were cheddar garlic bacon biscuits.

Tonight, Jacob ate the soup- he also ate it for lunch earlier. The highlight of dinner was the cheddar garlic bacon biscuits. Art said they made his day.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
6 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 pieces bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled
1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet- I use a seasoned baking stone.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and garlic powder. Using a pastry blender or two forks, blend the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Stir in the cheese and bacon. Stir in the milk until ingredients come together and seem evenly moist.
Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto prepared sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm. Makes about 10 biscuits.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Homemade Lentil Soup. Store-bought cookies.

A comment on yesterday's blog post inspired today's dinner. Please, keep sharing your comments!

Art had a meeting at work and was not home for dinner, so I kept the meal simple and made soup.

While Jacob ate his lunch, I made some chicken broth to use in the soup. Making chicken broth is quick, it saves money, and it is a good way to control the sodium content of dishes that require its use. It can be made in large quantities and frozen.

I used the bones I froze from the chicken I cooked last week for Chicken Enchiladas. Along with the chicken bones, I used the following:
10 cups water
1 carrot, cut into large pieces
1 onion, peeled and quartered
the tops of 1 bunch of celery (I break off the top part of each celery stalk)
1 bay leaf
1 small piece of ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

I boiled all of these in a pot for about 20 or 30 minutes. I drained the broth and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make the soup.

Before dinner, I cooked 2 cups of dry, rinsed lentils along with a generous pinch of salt and a piece of bacon according to the package directions. I drained the lentils, discarded the bacon (Art was horrified to hear of this step), and added them to the soup.

Cooking Tip: Always drain home-cooked beans from the soaking liquid (or, in the case of lentils which do not require soaking, the cooking liquid). The liquid absorbs a lot of the oligosaccharides (simple sugars that cause gas because they are hard to digest) contained in beans.

My version of Lentil Soup was thick and enjoyable. Something about the creamy texture of the warm soup was very satisfying. The bacon cooked with the lentils imparted a slightly smoky flavor.
Jacob ate about five bites and was done. I'm blaming that on the largest snack in history, which he ate about one hour before dinner. Surely he liked the Lentil Soup. Surely. I will see how he likes the leftovers tomorrow.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 1/2 cups chicken broth (add more broth if you prefer a less thick soup)
2 cups lentils, cooked and drained
1 cup brown rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Saute onion, carrot, and celery for about 8 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients except for the spinach. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle about 1/4 of the soup into a blender. Remove the center plug from the blender cap. Place cap on blender and cover with a folded kitchen towel. Puree soup on low until smooth- if soup is too thick, add water by Tablespoonfuls until the desired consistency is reached. Stir pureed soup back into soup in the pot. Season to taste.

Now, to the part about cookies: I bought a box of Kashi Oatmeal Raisin Flax cookies at the store today. They are REALLY good! I have eaten three of the eight cookies in the box. Two of them I ate with some ice cream in the form of a ice cream cookie sandwich.

My goal is to recreate these cookies at home. Maybe I will make enough to share with my family before I eat them all.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shells with Spinach. Also, Bacon.

I rarely follow recipes exactly. I love to tweak ingredients. Most of my adjustments involve adding items we love to something (e.g., crisp pieces of bacon mixed into pancake batter) or, substituting healthy alternatives (whole wheat flour instead of white flour). Some adjustments are just necessary.

Before having The Ticking Time Bomb, I would take my sweet time in the grocery store. Which five apples are the best in this pile? Should I get vanilla bean or French vanilla ice cream? I forgot to get mozzarella; I better mosey back to the other side of the store to get it...

Now, I'm lucky if I manage to get to the store, much less purchase half the items on my list. Needless to say, I don't always have every ingredient needed for a recipe.

Last night, we needed something for supper that was not leftover pulled pork for the third meal in a row. We had a large container of fresh spinach I wanted to use before it went bad. I was also craving pasta. I looked through some cook books to see what I could make that combined spinach and pasta. In addition to spinach, we had whole wheat pasta shells, Parmesan, butter, salt, and pepper- four of the nine ingredients in Baked Shells with Fresh Spinach and Pancetta. Never mind the other ingredients- including one in the recipe's title- I just used other items I had that seemed to fit.

My version of the recipe- listed after the original below- turned out well. The tasty sauce clinging to the shells and the gooey cheese topping were a great combination.

Here is the recipe from pages 94 and 95 of PASTA from Food and Wine Books published in 1994 by American Express Publishing Corp.
3 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 Tablespoons tomato puree (tomato puree is like tomato sauce without the added spices)
6 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 lb pancetta, cut into small dice
3/4 lb fresh spinach
3/4 lb medium pasta shells

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 T butter, the heavy cream and tomato puree to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 T Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
In a large frying pan, melt 1 T butter over moderately high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until slightly crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach in batches and cook, tossing until wilted. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 quart shallow baking dish. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the shells until almost tender, but slightly underdone, about 8 minutes. Drain.
Combine the tomato sauce, spinach, and shells. Transfer to baking dish and top with remaining Parmesan. Bake until very hot, 15 minutes.

Here is my variation on the dish.

2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 15oz can tomato sauce
6 Tablespoons Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 pieces bacon
3/4 lb fresh spinach
3/4 lb medium whole wheat pasta shells
2 pieces mozzarella string cheese, strung

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 T butter, the milk and tomato sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 T Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
In a large frying pan, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. Cool and crumble. Drain bacon grease from frying pan and return to stove over moderately low heat. Add the spinach in batches and cook, tossing until wilted. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a deep dish baker- my Pampered Chef baker is seasoned and needs no butter. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the shells until almost tender, but slightly underdone, 8 minutes. Drain.

Combine the tomato sauce, spinach, bacon and shells. Transfer to baking dish and top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella string cheese. Bake until very hot, 15 minutes.

FTC-mandated disclosure: I have received no valuable consideration in exchange for any of the products mentioned in this post.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Goldfish and Other Snacks

Jacob got grumpy yesterday afternoon while I was preparing dinner. Numerous attempts to distract him failed, so I suggested that Art offer him some Goldfish crackers. This worked: Jacob's eyes were glued to the container full of tasty crackers as Art pulled it out of the pantry. As soon as they were within reach, Jacob grabbed the largest handful he could manage and shoved the unfortunate school of fish into his mouth.

We eat a lot of snacks. When we are not eating snacks, we are eating a meal. Life is much less stressful if snacks are readily available. Jacob eats a lot of Goldfish (Art and I do as well). Processed cheese-flavored crackers for every snack, every day is not the most nutritious habit to develop.

Here's a list of the non-Goldfish snacks we regularly enjoy. I hope you will be inspired to regulate your family's blood sugar levels with some of these tasty options.

1. String Cheese. Jacob loves it. Art loves it. I love it. Processed, yes, but it's a pretty good option.

2. Sliced, Peeled Apple with Peanut Butter. This is a snack that is filling, nutritious, and balanced.

3. Simple Smoothie: Place whatever fruit you have on hand (apple, pear, grape, frozen berries, banana, etc.) in a blender with some plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey. Blend until smooth. Sometimes, I even throw in some pumpkin puree or fresh spinach- just try it. It's a lot better for everyone than snacks laden with hydrogenated oils.

4. Pancakes: Without syrup, pancakes make a great snack food. You can make a batch and freeze the leftovers (separated by plastic wrap) in a sandwich bag. Take one out and throw it in the toaster when you need a quick, portable snack. Try making pancakes from scratch. Doing so is surprisingly easy and you will probably have everything you need on hand. Substitute whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose flour to get some extra fiber (stuff that makes you feel full). I also add pumpkin puree to pancake batter- you can try mixing in sliced banana, chocolate chips, or cooked bacon bits. Seriously: cooked bacon bits make for great pancakes.

5. Fresh Veggies and Hummus. Jacob will eat the hummus on a piece of wheat bread. Fresh veggies are a choking hazard for small children, which I generally try to avoid. Bon Appetit has an easy recipe for hummus that I have made recently.

6. Cherry Orange Oatmeal Outdoors Bars: These bars are my favorite snack right now- my mouth is watering just thinking about them. One small bar will fill you up for hours.

I'm going to go find a snack...

Friday, October 23, 2009

BBQ With Beans, Potato "Salad," Some Carrot-and-Cranberry Salad-ish Stuff, and Apple Dumplings

Taking out-of-town guests to dinner at our favorite local restaurants used to be fun. A little over a year ago, though, I gave birth to the one I affectionately call "the ticking time bomb." Eating out now usually results in Art and me placating Jacob as long as possible with straws, spoons, lemon slices, chopsticks, sips from our water glass--anything. Tick. Tick. Tick. BOOM! Jacob decides the meal is over.

My father-in-law is in town tonight and we ate at home. We ahad a pulled pork recipe my mother-in-law used to make. The recipe is pretty hands-off other than the shredding of the meat. The pork butt (a cut of meat from the pig's shoulder- not the butt) is slow roasted in the oven. The cooking time and temperature can be adjusted to the cook's schedule. The recipe includes a vinegar sauce. We like to serve the pork on buns with a store-bought barbecue sauce.

5lb pork butt
1 1/4 cups water
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon pepper
1/2 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons canola oil

Determine how long the pork should cook and preheat the oven accordingly. (When planning, remember to allow about 30 minutes for meat to cool before being pulled.)
Temperature - Bake Time
375 - 1 hour
350 - 1 1/2 hours
275 - 2 hours
250 - 3 hours

Generously salt and pepper the pork. Place in a baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake until pork is cooked through and fork tender. Set aside until it is cool enough to handle. Shred.
For the vinegar sauce, combine water, salt, pepper, and red pepper in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Add vinegar and oil. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Pour over shredded pork.

No pulled pork dinner would be complete without a side of baked beans. I made my mom's recipe.


2 15oz cans baked beans (I bought 365 Organic Original Baked Beans)
1/2 diced onion
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon ketchup
2 Tablespoons syrup (I did not have syrup, so I used molasses)
2 pieces bacon, fried and crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a baking dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bubbly.

Along with pulled pork sandwiches, we had an unusual potato salad inspired by a recipe I found in Southern Living. "Potato salad" is a misleading name for this dish. It tastes nothing like the typical mayonnaise-and-relish-drenched potatoes that normally go by the name. This version is served hot and is full of flavor.

Instead of grilling the potatoes, I bake them in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Also, I use only half the dressing and bacon.

We are also having a carrot and cranberry salad recipe featured in Bon Appetit.

I am considering making this salad for Thanksgiving and want to try it out first. (We are hosting Thanksgiving this year for the first time ever!) In a few words, this salad turned out to be weird. I will not be making this for Thanksgiving, or ever again. The salad tasted like carrots tossed with vinegar rather than the cranberry-y, ginger-y goodness I had been expecting.

For dessert, we enjoyed apple dumplings with Edy's Double Churned Caramel ice cream. Wow. This was good. Again, I based my recipe on one from Southern Living. I substituted 1 cup whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, butter for the shortening, and omitted the pecans. The apples were baked to a soft, fluffy consistency. The sugar, water, spice, and butter sauce baked into a caramel-like syrup that perfectly complemented the apples.

Dessert is always my favorite course, and my apple dumpling did not let me down. It probably would have been Jacob's, too, but he didn't make it that far into the meal. Good thing we didn't go out to eat.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Omelet

This morning I awake at 5:55am. What was that sound? Silence? Normally, I wake up to Jacob yelling at me from his room. In no uncertain toddler babble terms, he lets me know he is ready to get up. I take advantage of this rare opportunity to have a few minutes to myself. Then, I start thinking about breakfast.

We are on a pretty strict breakfast schedule. Every morning Art has oatmeal with dried fruit and a splash of milk, I have Wheat Chex and soy milk, and Jacob has Cheerios with milk and some of my Wheat Chex. Every other morning I make eggs. Occasionally, I will make pancakes.

This morning, since I am still the only person up, I decide to make an omelet.
An omelet is a great way to get veggies and protein at the start of the day.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess I do not eat eggs. One reason for a reader to trust an egg hater's omelet recipe: two egg lovers, Art and Jacob, give this omelet a thumbs up. So, please, keep reading.

Making a picture perfect omelet can be a little intimidating, but I don't let that stop me. If it doesn't come out of the pan perfectly, just call it "scrambled eggs with broccoli and cheese."


1 cup broccoli florets, most of the stem removed
1/2 Tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped spinach
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon milk
dash of salt
dash of pepper
1/2 cup finely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese


Simmer broccoli florets in a small pot of salted boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain. In a small saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and spinach. Stir for one minute, or until spinach wilts slightly. Remove to a plate.
In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until fluffy. Pour eggs into saute pan heated over medium heat. Let cook until edge of omelet is set. Run plastic spatula around the edge while tilting the pan to let uncooked egg run to the edge. Repeat until omelet is set and no longer runny. Place spinach and garlic, broccoli, and shredded cheese on one side of omelet. Run spatula under omelet and fold in half. Carefully move to a serving plate.

Jacob, not fully awake, and Gerard enjoying breakfast

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

Our family--my husband specifically--likes anything that can be called a "spicy gross mixture." Mexican fare often fits that description, but healthy food rarely does. With these enchiladas, I was able to put together a spicy gross mixture with some redeeming nutritional value.

Whole wheat tortillas are better for you than white flour tortillas, but Art doesn't really like them. I used corn tortillas instead. I exchanged the typical Spanish white rice for my own spiced-up version of brown rice. Brown rice is much better for you than white rice, and, in Art's opinion, this recipe combined the brown rice's flavor with the spices quite nicely. Instead of sodium-laden canned enchilada sauce, I quickly whipped up my own with items I regularly have on hand. Finally, I added just enough mouth-watering cheese to create the desired "goo factor," but I didn't add so much as to make it heart-attack inducing.

My number one challenge when fixing dinner every night is the fact that Jacob needs constant attention. Being able to focus on food preparation for more than five minutes at a stretch is never guaranteed. That's why I really like meals that can be prepared in short bursts. On days we spend at home, I have time to cook a little here and there throughout the day.

I started tonight's enchiladas this morning. I began marinating the chicken after breakfast. I put the chicken in the oven and made the rice and sauce during Jacob's oh-so-short afternoon nap. Shortly before dinner, I combined it all together and baked it.

My version of chicken enchiladas turned out to be satisfying and flavorful. As a bonus, they are lighter and healthier than what you would typically find at a restaurant. In our experience, restaurant enchiladas have usually been drowned in sauce and smothered in cheese. Art pointed out that he liked how these enchiladas weren't overpowered by either.

1 1/2 lb chicken thighs, skin and bones intact
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil
juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon each of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder
1 small yellow onion, diced, divided
1/2 cup brown rice, cooked according to package directions
1/2 of a 6oz can of tomato paste (Freeze the other half to save for another use.)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
15 oz can tomato sauce
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups torn baby spinach
16-20 corn tortillas


Shredded Chicken:
Place chicken in a gallon size freezer bag. Combine 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a bowl. Add 1/4 of the diced onion. Pour marinade over chicken and seal the bag to close. Shake the bag to cover all the chicken. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken in an iron skillet or other oven proof dish. Pour marinade over chicken. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. De-bone chicken. (Throw javascript:void(0)the bones in a Ziploc bag and freeze for making chicken broth later.) Shred chicken and place in a medium sized bowl. Refrigerate until ready to make enchiladas. Or, proceed with the recipe.

Spiced-up Rice:
In a saute pan, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the remaining diced onion and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic cloves. Cook and stir about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook until heated, about 1 minute. Remove half of onion mixture to a medium sauce pan for use in the enchilada sauce. With the remaining onion mixture, reduce the heat to medium and stir in cooked rice until combined. Add to the chicken and refrigerate, or proceed.

Enchilada Sauce:
Add the can of tomato sauce and bay leaf to the onion mixture you set aside earlier. Stir over medium low heat until combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes. Stir in cumin and remove bay leaf. Season to taste. Set aside.

Enchilada Stuffing:
Combine shredded chicken, rice, 1 cup of cheese, beans, and spinach. Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a large oven proof dish(es) with cooking spray. (I used a 9x13" and a 8x8" dish.) Heat a skillet over high heat. Heat the tortillas on hot skillet until warm. Place stuffing down center of warmed tortilla and fold each side in. Place in prepared dish, seam side down. Repeat until all stuffing is used. Spoon sauce over enchiladas and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and top with remaining 1 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes about 16 enchiladas.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The First Recipe- Lunch, and Possibly Dinner Later?

After a long morning of playing outside, Jacob and I are hungry. Crisp fall weather makes me crave warm soup. Jacob has had cereal, a pancake, and a fruit smoothie so far this morning. No vegetables. What should we have for lunch? Vegetable Soup! I don't have too many groceries in the house, so here is what I have created:
Minestrone Soup
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups veggie broth
1 1/2 cups diced baby carrots
2"x2" Parmesan cheese rind (This adds a rich creaminess to the broth. You will remove it prior to serving.)
bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups small pasta shells
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
grated Parmesan cheese

Heat butter and oil in a medium sized pot over medium high heat. Add diced onion and saute until golden and soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute, stirring. Add tomatoes, veggie broth, carrots, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 15 minutes, or until carrots are soft. Add frozen peas and pasta. Increase heat to med high and boil for 6 minutes. Add chopped spinach and cook 1 minute. Remove Parmesan rind and bay leaf. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

Jacob seemed to enjoy the soup and is now napping peacefully. We have enough soup left over to have for dinner tonight.