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But 90% of the time, I’ll look at an elaborate recipe with 20 ingredients and think, “Yeah right! Not tonight, my friend.”
Which is a pity, because ingredient lists can be deceiving as far as effort involved.
On the other hand, if I come across a recipe with only 3 or 4 ingredients, I’ll probably dismiss that one too. “Not exciting. Probably has ‘boxed something’ as an ingredient.”
Sometimes I’m too judgmental.
Cover and cook. Eat.
And don’t get a steam burn!
No seriously, DON’T get a steam burn. I went to pull off the aluminum foil, and my hand got in the way of the escaping steam. It was one of those burns that actually took a second to reach my brain. At first it was like, “oh that was kind of hot,” and a second later I was jumping around the kitchen waving my hand in the air like I just didn’t care. Then I remembered to run it under cold water.
I’m quick like that.
Hours later, I was STILL icing my fingers because they felt like my skin was melting off. Unwrap with caution, folks.
Steamy Rice and Beans
Adapted from eat, live, run
2 chicken breasts, diced (or leave out the chicken!)
1 cup dry rice (I used Jasmine rice)
8 oz can of tomato sauce
14 oz can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne, depending on how much kick you’re looking for.
guacamole for topping (I’m kind of obsessed with the Wholly Guacamole from Costco. Best ingredients list I’ve seen on store-bought guacamole.)
Preheat the oven to 350F
In a 9×13″ dish, pour in the rice, tomato sauce and kidney beans. Add the spices to the broth and whisk together. Pour the broth over the rice and beans, and give the pan a little stir. Add the chicken, and then cover the pan very tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 90 minutes with the foil on.
CAREFULLY remove the aluminum foil, top the casserole with guacamole, and serve.
Yours truly with peeling fingers,
It was so simple to come up with the first time. I was making chili, and I decided that curry powder would be fun to try instead of chili powder. And then of course I had to add coconut milk.
I do have to admit that I was pretty nervous about how this would turn out, and how it would be received, but it remains the most requested meal to date.
I make this exactly the same way as I make regular chili, but the difference in flavor couldn’t be bigger!
Curry Chicken Chili
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 14 oz can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can Black Beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can Kidney Beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can Diced Tomatoes
1 14 oz can of Coconut Milk
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
Saute the diced chicken until almost cooked through. Add the diced tomatoes (including the liquid), followed by all the beans. Add the coconut milk, curry and cayenne. Salt to taste. Stir until everything is combined, and allow to simmer until the chicken is fully cooked.
You can also make this with 1 pound of ground beef, or no meat at all!
When you buy something at Costco, you don’t just end up with one package. So, the other package of sausages have been sitting in our refrigerator long enough that I was worried we’d have to throw them away if I didn’t come up with something.
Our broccoli was the same deal. We had a lot of it, and although we’d been slowly nibbling on it for awhile, (and adding it to a few dinners) I knew that if I didn’t use up a big portion of it, a big portion of it was going to go in the trash.
Ok, so we totally can, but we needed to use it up faster than nibbling would allow.
You can freeze what you don’t need right away, thereby not wasting any food, and you have back up dinner or lunches when you’re pressed for time.
And Nick thought the sausage taste was disguised enough that he didn’t even realize it was the same sausage. Win one for me
Chicken Sausage Calzones
1 pre-made pizza dough (I used my bread machine, but lots of stores have ready made stuff in the freezer aisle)
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 cup sliced onion
3 sausage links (3 oz each) sliced into rounds. I used these
2/3 cup cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup grated mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste
cornmeal to sprinkle on the baking sheet
Preheat the oven to 350F
On a cookie sheet, spread the sausage out to create one layer. Roast on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes (or until done), making sure to move the sausage around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
On a separate cookie sheet, spread the broccoli and the onion out to create one layer. Roast on the top shelf of the oven for about 15-20 minutes, moving everything around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
Set the vegetables and sausage aside to cool slightly before adding the cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir everything together until fully combined.
Increase the oven heat to 400F
Prepare a stone baking pan or cookie sheet by sprinkling cornmeal onto it.
Divide the pizza dough into 8 equal portions, and roll or spread the dough to create little circles. Add a few spoonfuls of the filling onto one side, leaving about 3/4 of an inch edge. Fold the other side of the dough over to create a pocket, and use a fork to seal the edges. Cut a slit or two in the top, and bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
We’ve had a long spring this year. A long wet spring.
Great for the grass and my water bill, not so great for morale.
But even though I’m seriously a happy camper, turning on the oven when it’s 85F in my kitchen is just asking for trouble. And melted popsicles.
So what’s a Jo to do? Make a giant salad! With chicken! And vegetables! And no oven!
Summer Survival Salad
4 unfrozen chicken breasts (I like boneless and skinless, but use what you’ve got)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1-2 cups sugar snap peas (you can leave them whole, but I cut them in half for easier eating)
your favorite mix of lettuce
Marinate the chicken for at least 15 minutes, up to a day, in your favorite Italian salad dressing or vinaigrette (I’ll give you my favorite recipe at the bottom).
Grill the chicken (outside! not in your kitchen!) until fully cooked, adding more marinade each time you turn the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest covered in tin foil before you slice it into strips.
In the meantime, assemble your salad. I like to do it in layers, ’cause it’s more fun that way. Then plate and serve.
My favorite salad dressing/chicken marinade
from Emeril Lagasse
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 clove pressed garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
Add all ingredients into a lidded container. Shake or whisk until everything is combined. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
What are your favorite summer survival foods?
Spring in Montana is a volatile thing.
In the same week, we’ve gone from beautiful, sunny, 50F, to cloudy, windy and snowy. C’est la vie in ol’ MT.
When we were in the throes of sunny rapture, we got together with our friends and had a dinner of summer-ish foods. Namely, bbq pizza and grilled asparagus. Nothing groundbreaking or original, I know, but it made us all think of warm weather and back yard bbq’s.
Plus, is there anything better than grilled asparagus?
Cooked chicken, smothered in Frank’s Hot Sauce
When you bake your pizza, put the asparagus on the grill. They’ll get done about the same time, depending on how big the asparagus stalks are. Don’t forget to check on the stalks often, and roll them a few times so that they cook completely through.
We’re getting closer. Maybe I’ll break out my Chaco’s and speed things along…
Think it will work? Here’s hoping
I got this idea while running on the treadmill. No joke. Something similar was happening on 30 Minute Meals with Rachel Ray–similar in that she was wrapping meat in puff pastry sheets, but totally different meat and filling–and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. You know how songs get stuck in your head sometimes? Yeah, that happens to me too, but with recipes. Sometimes they are awesome, and sometimes they totally bomb. My track record is pretty 50-50 whether or not these recipes actually work.
The elements of this recipe were spectacular.
Chicken baked in a balsamic glaze. (This one worked really well, and I found a small bottle in Safeway)
Avocado, basil, tomato, mozzarella and green onion.
Layered inside puff pastry (which was surprisingly hard to find at Safeway).
There are only two things I’ll do differently next time: no tomato and more basil. The tomato made the pastry dough very soggy and hard to completely bake, and the basil got lost amidst everything else.
But truly, it’s hard to go wrong with flaky pastry, moist chicken and melted mozzarella cheese! I liked it very much, but Nick hates–and I mean hates–soggy, doughy things. He gave it a valiant effort, and was very nice about it, but I could tell that he wouldn’t eat this version again happily. No worries! The cool thing about my recipes is that they’re just general guidelines. I can add or subtract whatever I like. Next time, everyone will be happy.
Pastry Wrapped Chicken
Preheat oven to 400F
2 chicken breasts, brushed with balsamic glaze and baked
8 fresh basil leaves (if you don’t like the stem, go ahead and cut it out of the middle of the leaf)
4 slices of mozzarella cheese (or 1/2 cup grated)
half of an avocado, sliced
1-2 green onions, sliced
1 sheet of puff pastry (Like this)
1 egg white mixed with 2 tsps of water
After thawing the puff pastry, cut into 4 squares. On each square, layer: basil leaf, half of a chicken breast, basil leaf, mozarella and avocado. Begin pulling the corners of the pastry over top of the fillings. Brush the corners with the egg wash, and gently press to seal. Don’t worry if the packets aren’t totally sealed. Flip the completed packet over and brush with the egg wash, then top with green onion. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.
Do you ever get crazy ideas stuck in your head? Do you ever act on them?
I made chicken pot pie quite often a million years ago. We got these beautiful, oven-safe bowls for our wedding, and I was super excited to make individual servings for everyone. They were so delicious, and fun to make, and easy! I would just put a ready made pie crust into each bowl, fill it with stuff, and then fold the dough over to seal it up.
And then came that dark day. The day that I turned over one of those boxes of ready made pie crust and actually read the nutritional information.
800 CALORIES!!! PER CRUST?!?!?
My jaw hit the ground so hard I’m honestly surprised I have teeth. I’d never made pie crust on my own before, so I had no idea they consist of butter and flour. My mind swam as I thought of those 800 calories of crust plus everything else that went into said crust! We’d always joked about how filling they were, but it was never a problem to put two-thirds of it away in a single sitting.
I cried a little as I put the boxed pie crust back in the store refrigerator. I love chicken pot pie! I’d started making them at home after I saw how full of sodium the Marie Calendar’s versions were. And the individual bowls were so fun and creative!
Later I attempted to make my own pie crusts, but all the recipes I found were equally unhealthy, and many contained shortening, which I just can’t do. Even vegetable shortening. I know that shortening is a perfectly acceptable ingredient, but something about it just gives me a mental block. If I don’t know it’s in there, please don’t tell me.
Anyway, after many, many, many Frankenstein creations, I finally came up with something delicious. It’s not served in individual bowls, or even a pie dish, but it’s pretty, pot-pie like, and husband and son approved. I don’t want to know the caloric content, so I’ve purposely not tried to guess. What I do know for sure is that it has nutritional benefits from the whole wheat flour and vegetables, and it’s quite filling–therefore easy to eat in moderation. It also makes a lot, so it would be great to serve for a crowd. (The three of us ate less than half in one meal.)
What’s in it:
Roll the dough into a roughly circular shape and carefully move it onto a pan. I prefer stoneware, but use what you’ve got.
(Confession: I really suck at working with dough. For realsies. I usually start crying until Nick comes to my rescue and fixes the world. And by that I mean rolling out the dough until it’s perfect and then gently placing onto whatever pan/plate it needs to end up on. He’s my hero. This was the first time I’ve had a little success, and I did it all by myself! I had to use lots and lots of flour. And it took a bit of finesse getting the dough to not stick to the counter)
I used a pastry brush to remove the excess flour that gets on the crust during rolling. It never occurred to me to then brush the crust with butter or an egg wash, and really, I don’t think it needs it. However, if you want to try it, let me know how it goes. It might make it that much prettier. This took about 15 minutes to bake the biscuit crust all the way through, and if I would have spread the filling out just a tiny bit more, it would have been hotter in the middle (it was definitely warm, but there was no steam going on). Whatever! It tasted so good! I paired it with a giant salad, and we had an excellent meal. I’ll leave you with the final shots.