Friday, June 27, 2014

Rice Pilaf w/ Chickpeas and Lentils

Back years and years ago my husband found this recipe on the internet somewhere. He wanted a rice we could eat with chicken kabobs that was different than many of the others out there. We fell in love with this rice. So tasty and good for you as well. Super easy and fast to make. Perfect side to any meal.
 
 
Rice Pilaf w/ Chickpeas and Lentils
1/2 cup cooked lentils
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
4 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup long grain rice, uncooked
1/4 cup orzo(found in the pasta section of grocery store)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 T. cumin
1 tsp ground cayenne or red pepper (use only 1/2 tsp if don't like it spicy)
2 cups chicken broth or water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 T. dried parsley
 
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Uncover and turn heat up to high stir in lemon juice, rice, orzo and cook for 2-4 minutes, while stirring. Add the tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the parsley 5 minutes before serving.
 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Homemade Buns

Homemade Buns
So a few years ago I started making all of the bread that we eat homemade. It tastes so much better and it also allows me to know what is going into the things that we are eating. I mean half the stuff that is in prepackaged premade food we can't even pronounce.
I know most of you don't have time to be making all of your own bread but if you find you have extra time to spare I ask, no beg and plead, you to make homemade buns!!! These taste so much better than store bought. We love to toast them before we use them. We have used them for hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, sandwiches and all the various types of sloppy joes we enjoy!!! We have also used them for breakfast. We put eggs and sausage or ham and had a breakfast sandwich. So good!!! They really are simple and easy to make. 
 
 
Homemade Buns
(makes 12 rolls)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 T. yeast
2 T. sugar
2 T. oil
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups to 4 1/2 cups flour
(I use half whole wheat half all purpose flour)
 
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, sugar and yeast and let stand 5-10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy and bubbly. Add the oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour and mix. Gradually add the rest of the flour a 1/2 a cup at a time until the dough pulls off the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough in the stand mixer for 5-10 minutes or by hand 10-15 minutes until is forms a smooth elastic dough. Greased another bowl with cooking spray or a little bit of oil.  Place the dough in the bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. It will take about an hour. Punch down the dough and cut into twelve equal portions. I use a kitchen scale and make each bun about 2 oz each of dough. I highly recommend a kitchen scale. I just have a cheap one and it works so well. It is nice to have all even looking buns but if you don't want to weigh each bun just eyeball them. I then roll each of the 12 pieces of dough into a ball, place 6 on one large cookie sheet and 6 on another. I then squish each round dough ball down with the palm of my hand. Until it looks like the shape of a hamburger bun. You don't want to squish it too thin but you don't want it too round or it will just look like a dinner roll when finished cooking. Then cover the squished buns with a towel and let raise until doubled in size, it takes about 45 minutes. Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown on the tops and bottoms. Take out and butter the tops of each one. Enjoy warm or cold. You can also make these into hot dog buns by rolling the dough pieces into a snake like shape and letting them raise and bake them as directed for the hamburger buns.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spicy Sweet n' Sour Meatballs

 
 We love meatballs in this house, in fact, we never met a meatball that we didn't like. With that being said I went on a hunt for a good sweet n sour meatball recipe. I got the sweet n sour recipe from Mel's kitchen Café and new that it would be great because she never disappoints. But then we love spicy things a little bit more than overly sweet and so I decided to combine the recipe I found over on Mel's Blog with a spicy sticky sauce we love to put over chicken. The combination was so great!! Seriously yummy and easy to make!!! 
 
Spicy Sweet n' Sour Meatballs
meatballs:
3 lbs ground beef
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
3 eggs
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 T. minced garlic
1 cup milk
3 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp worcesteshire sauce
 
 Sweet Sauce:
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tsp mustard
1 1/4 cup bbq sauce
5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
 
Spicy Sauce:
1 1/8 cup Franks hot Sauce(do not use and other kind)
2/3 cup water
4 cups brown sugar
 
For the MEatballs: Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Form into balls and place on a large cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and well browned all around. If you don't like them as brown cook them less.
For the sauces: In two saucepans, bring the ingredients for each one to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Place the cooked meatballs in a large skillet, pour both sauces over the meatballs and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 -30 minutes. If the sauce is to thin thicken it with a little cornstarch and water. Serve over your choice of Rice.
 
Note: I know this is a lot of sugar. If you want to cut the sugar down go ahead and try it. I have never done so, so I can't vouch for it success but let me know if you do and if it works. We always have a little bit of meatballs/sauce over a large portion of rice so we don't feel guilty about the sugar content. This really makes a large pan full and could feed 10 -12 people easily. If you don't want as much cut all the ingredients in half and make a half batch.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chocolate Chip Coconut Craisin Granola Bars

I have been meaning to try homemade granola bars for a while now and finally did after printing off tons of recipes for them in the past year. These granola bars were so tasty. Way better than a store bought one and so much better for you-since you get to control the ingredients that go into them not all of the foreign stuff none of us can even pronounce. If you have been skeptical about trying your own granola bars please don't be they are so yummy and the possibilities are endless. The only difference is they don't  quite hold together as good as a store bought one but in my book that isn't a big deal because it means no gooey high fructose corn syrup holding them together only real ingredients that are good for us. The original recipe called for dried blueberries but they are really expensive so I just used craisins and added mini chocolate chips to them. Use what you like as mix ins. Make them your own!!!
 
Chocolate Chip Coconut Craisin Granola Bars
 
8 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup milled flax seeds
1 1/2 cup coconut
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup craisins, raisins, or dried blueberries
1 cup mini semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup agave
1 T. coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla
 
Preheat the oven to 325. Spray or line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.   Combine the oats, flour, milled flax, coconut, brown sugar, salt, craisins, and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Stir well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, honey, agave, coconut extract and vanilla, stir well. Pour over the wet ingredients and mix well. Press the granola mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until the granola bars are golden brown. Allow to cool then cut into bars. Wrap them individually in saran wrap or store covered in a air tight container.
 
Note: if you don't want a large cookie sheet of them then cut the recipe in 1/2 and press into a 9x13 inch pan.
 
Note: These are also yummy crumbled up and mixed with some greek yogurt!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sugar cookie Bars

Who doesn't love a sugar cookie and, a soft sugar cookie at that, but hates to roll out, cut, bake and frost a ton of cookies? That would be me. That is why they don't make an appearance around our house but once, maybe twice a year. Recipes for these sugar cookie bars are all over the internet and so I decided to try them. Boy were they tasty. They taste just like my soft sugar cookie recipe I have on this blog, which makes all of us in this house happy because we love a soft sugar cookie. Give these a try, PLEASE!!! You will thank me later.
 
 Sugar Cookie Bars
5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  •  3 heaping Tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • In a large bowl or bowl of your mixer, Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the sour cream and mix. Then add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until well combined. Press the dough into a large(half sheet) greased, or parchment lined, cookie sheet. You may need to grease your finger with cooking spray to press it all in the pan. I did. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 17-20 minutes or until the very edges start to turn a light brown. DO NOT OVERBAKE. IT IS BETTER TO HAVE THEM A LITTLE UNDERCOOKED THAN OVERCOOKED. Mine were barely light brown on the very edge when I pulled them out. All ovens cook differently so watch carefully. Take out and cool completely. Frost with your favorite frosting. Mine is cream cheese but use whatever kind you like.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2(8 oz) cream cheese softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Cream the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add the sugar in a cup at a time, mix well. Add the vanilla and food coloring if desired. Frost the cookie bars. You may not use all of the frosting depending on if you like a lot of frosting or not.
  •  
    Note: if you don't want that big of a pan of them then just cut the recipe in half and bake them in a 9x13 inch pan.
     
     
     

    Tuesday, March 4, 2014

    Beef with Broccoli

    As I have said before we love all forms of Chinese cuisine in this house. I am always on the look out for new yummy recipes to try. I found a recipe for a broccoli side dish that said you could add chicken or shrimp to it and make it the main dish. It looked really yummy. I highly adapted the recipe just because I like to do that and came up with a yummy main course. If you need a new Chinese recipe give this baby a try. So yummy!!!
    Beef With Broccoli
    1 lb ground beef
    1 medium onion, chopped
    2 T garlic
    9 cup broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
    1 T sesame oil
    Sauce:
    2 cans chicken broth
    3/4 cup soy sauce
    1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
    5 1/2 T. Sesame oil
    5 1/2 T. cornstarch
    Sriracha Sauce to taste(depending on how spicy you like it)
     
    Brown the beef in a large skillet. Drain the grease well and set the meat aside. Then add the 1 T. sesame oil, broccoli, onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until veggies are crisp tender. In a small bowl whisk all the sauce ingredients together. Pour over the broccoli, add the beef back in and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 10-20 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and the veggies reach your desired tenderness. It you like more of a bite to your broccoli simmer only 10 minutes if you like it soft simmer it longer. Serve over Rice.
    This can feed 8-10 people so cut the recipe in half if you don't want that much!!!
     
     If you want an all veggie dish them don't add the beef- just use more 
     broccoli or add another veggie with it like bell peppers or cauliflower
     
    You can also do this with chicken or shrimp.
     
    Recipe Source: adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
     

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

     I am one of those who usually hates flat cookies. I love my cookies to have some depth and heigth to them. I love them to be chuck full of chocolate, nuts, etc. as well. When I came across these cookies I was skeptical at first to try them out but man oh man they were awesome. I have to say they are my husband's favorite cookie other than a regular chocolate chip one. So please Don't let these flat cookies fool you like they almost did me. They are awesome. Soft and chewy, so good!!
     
    Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
    1 cup butter, softened
    2 cups brown sugar
    2 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla
    1 cup plus 2 T. flour(I often use white whole wheat flour)
    3 cups oats(old fashioned or quick)
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 cup wheat germ(optional)
    1 package mini chocolate chips(I prefer mini chips or chopped up chocolate)
     
    Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, wheat germ, and chocolate chip. Mix well. Roll into balls and place on a greased or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 for 11-13 minutes. Don't over bake. All ovens cook different so adjust accordingly to your oven. Let sit on pan for 5 minutes then remove to cooling rack. Eat with a glass of milk or ice cream. Yum!!!

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

    Balsamic Pesto Pasta

    I am always looking for new pasta recipes. We love pasta in our house and I for one get tired of always having spaghetti and Alfredo so I when I came across this I just knew I needed to try this out. Now the rest of my family are a red or white sauce kind of bunch but they even liked this pasta and gave it the thumbs up to appear again on our table. So yeah for me!!! If you need a new way to make pasta this is simple and so tasty.  We served it with salad and the homemade French bread I posted just a couple of days ago!! Yum!!
    Balsamic Pesto Pasta
    1 cup pesto
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp onion powder
    2 chicken breasts, cut in to bite size pieces
    1 lb box penne or rotini
    3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    4 T. fresh basil, chopped
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
     
    Place the first 6 ingredients in a Ziploc bag and marinate all day or at least 2 hours in the fridge. After you marinate the chicken all day. Take out of fridge, dump all contents into a skillet and cook with 1 T. of olive oil until cooked through. Cook pasta according to package directions. Mix together the tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the cooked chicken, cooked pasta, and the tomato mixture well. Add 1 cup of the cheese and mix well. Place in a greased 9x13 inch pan. Cover with remaining cheese and Bake at 325 degrees until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly around the edges. About 20 minutes.
     
    Recipe Source: adapted from Thirty Handmade Days
     
     

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    French Bread Numero Dos

    I know I already have a French bread recipe on this blog but if you know me at all I like to try a lot of different recipes. I enjoy trying new things and I love love love all bread!!! Kind of a weakness for me next to sweets, of course, but at least when you make bread at home you control what type of ingredients go in it and hey lets face it homemade bread is divine. Those of you out there that are scared of making your own bread just try it. It takes practice but once you get the hang of it, it is so easy and might I add cheap!!!
     
    French Bread
    2 1/4 cup warm water
    2 T. sugar
    1 T.yeast
    1 T. salt
    2 T. oil
    5 1/2-6 cups flour( I used half white half wheat)
     
    In a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer, combine the water, sugar and yeast. If using active dry yeast, let the mixture activate(get bubbly and foamy) for 8-10 minutes. If using instant yeast, proceed with the recipe no need to let the yeast activate. Add the salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour and mix. Add the 2 1/2-3 cups more of flour gradually. The dough should clean off the side of the bowl and not be too sticky but it should still be soft. Knead for 5 minutes with the dough hook or 10 minutes with your hands until you have a soft smooth dough. Leave the dough in the mixer or bowl to rest for 10 minutes. Then stir it down(turn on the mixer for 10 seconds or stir down with a wooden spoon) and then allow it to rest for another 10 minutes. Repeat for a total of 5 times. Then turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal parts. Roll each part into a 9x13 inch rectangle. Roll the dough up starting at the long edge(like a jelly roll)and pinch the seam to seal. Repeat with the second piece of dough and place them on a large cookie sheet (equal distance apart) lined with parchment or silpat liner(or cooking spray if you don't have either of the other two) Cover the loaves and let raise until doubled in size. Mine took an hour. With a very sharp knife cut 3-4 gashes at an angle in the top of each loaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden and baked through.
    Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    Chicken Pot Pie

     
    I don't know about you all but when I think of Chicken Pot Pie I think of those little frozen individual pies that we all ate growing up. They were cheap and all you had to do was take them out of the box and pop them in the oven. I remember loving them as a kid but as a grown up not so much!! Plus they are not very good for you just like most premade prepackaged things. I have been making homemade chicken pot pie for years but have yet to add the recipe to this blog. It has been several years since I have made this yummy comfort food and so last night I decided to make it for dinner. I got the recipe from my Sister's Sister-in-law. I changed it up a little bit for my families liking and it sure is tasty. Feel free to change the veggies to what your family likes and will eat. But do give this a try it is so much better than a premade frozen one believe me.
     
    Chicken Pot Pie
    2 T. butter
    2T olive oil
    2 chicken breast, cubed
    Salt and Pepper
    2 cups carrots, diced
    4 stalks celery, diced
    2 large potatoes, diced and cooked(I used leftover baked potatoes from the night before dinner)
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 T garlic, minced
    1 cup peas, or corn or green beans(I use frozen)if you use fresh add them when cooking the carrots, celery and onion
    Salt and pepper
    6 T butter
    6 T. flour
    1/2 cup  half n half or cream
    2 cups or 1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
    Salt and Pepper
    2 store bought pie crusts or homemade (enough to cover a 9x13 inch pan)
    1 egg, beaten
     
    In a large skillet, heat the butter an oil up, then add the chicken and salt and pepper to taste and sauté until cooked through. Then add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and cook until veggies are just about soft and tender. Season with plenty of salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked potatoes and frozen peas, corn or green beans or a combination of them and cook till they are heated through. Remove the chicken veggie mixture from pan. Add the 6 T butter and melt then whisk in the flour and cook for one minute creating a roux. Make sure it is bubbling gently for the one minute. Then whisk in the cream and chicken broth and whisk till smooth and thick like gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste. THen dump the chicken veggie mixture back into the pan with the gravy and mix well. Dump into a 9x13 inch pan and top with a rectangle pie crust to cover the top. Make sure to cut holes in the crust to vent. Brush with beaten egg. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until heated through and crust is a golden brown. I have used both store bought and homemade. when I use store bought I use both crusts , put them together and roll out in to a rectangle. If I use homemade I make enough to cover the top of the 9x13 pan. I only put a top crust on because we like more filling than crust in our house. If you like a lot of crust put some on the bottom of pan, then add the filling and place a crust on top.