What’s for Dinner? Borrow My Meals

Feel bored, overwhelmed, or just too busy to worry about what to eat this week?  No worries.  I hope you find some inspiration here.  When all else fails, borrow my meals.  Each week I will be posting What’s for Dinner? 

Everyday Granola 
As in, “I could eat this granola Every. Single. Day”.  The base recipe comes from My Gluten Free Kitchen.  I took Michelle’s advice and customize each batch depending on my mood.  I added toasted unsweetened flaked coconut to this month’s and served it with vanilla yogurt and fruit from our co-op basket.

Banana Bread Mini-Loaves adapted from 8 Weeks to a Better You Recipes

Stewed Cabbage & Tomatoes with Smoked Sausage
I had some stewed cabbage leftover from making cabbage rolls.  I added a little salt and pepper and reheated it over medium-high to high heat until the liquid evaporated.  Then I cubed smoked sausage (which I browned in another pan) and added it to the cabbage.  Serve it spooned over leftover rice, and that’s lunch in a hurry. Both boys commented they liked these little German bowls even better than the cabbage rolls.

Grilled Pork Chops with Grilled Spicy Garlic Bok Choy & Ginger Rainbow Carrots
For the bok choy and chicken teriyaki, I use tamari because it is gluten free and the brand I found is non-gmo.

Grilled Spicy Garlic Bok Choy
Gather:
5 heads baby bok choy
2 Tablespoons chili oil
2 Tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
To Prepare:
Heat grill to medium to low heat (400-350).  Combine tamari, chili oil, honey, and garlic in bowl.  Slice bok choy in half length-wise, place on a rimmed platter, and brush with chili-tamari mixture.  Wrap tops of bok choy with foil.
Grill bok choy until slightly softened and charred (5 minutes or so on each side).  Remove foil and arrange on serving tray.  Brush with remaining chili-tamari mixture while hot.

Grilled Ginger Rainbow Carrots
Gather:
1 bunch rainbow carrots
½ X ½ inch cube of crystallized ginger
Salt, pepper, drizzle of olive oil
To prepare:
Clean carrots and cut lengthwise and crosswise once.  On a square of heavy duty foil, toss olive oil, salt, pepper, and ginger with carrots.  Fold to seal foil tightly.  Grill over medium to high (375-400) heat for approximately fifteen minutes or until desired tenderness.

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Tex-Mex Sweet Potato Skins
These may be my new favorite dish. Could you pack more good for you into four bites? Thank you! Thank you Tieghan at Half Baked Harvest for the inspiration! They are works of art.
Gather:
4 small organic yams or sweet potatoes, baked at 375 for one hour, halved lengthwise and cooled about ten minutes then hollowed out to make a potato skin
1 cup black beans
1 chicken breast, small dice or shredded
1 cup cooked or frozen spinach
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, divided
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder

To make:
Combine oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano to make a seasoned oil. In a separate bowl, combine chicken, beans, spinach, and half a cup of cheese to make the stuffing. Brush skins with seasoned oil, place on asking stone or lined baker, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until they begin to crisp. I added the remaining seasoned oil to the stuffing. Stuff the potatoes, top with remaining cheese, and bake for an additional ten minutes. Serve & listen to everyone rejoice at how yummy they are (including resident sweet potato hater). Decide Tieghan might be your new favorite food blogger.

Juice
Giada’s Rise & Shine Juice
If I make it again, I will add an apple because on the show the apples she demonstrated with were large and the ones in my co-op basket were very small and I will not add the carrot.

Cucumber Melon Juice
1 handful spinach leaves
4 cups watermelon
1 large cucumber, peeled

Smoothie Add-in:
Frozen honeydew melon

Snacky, Snacky:
Roasted salted almonds & pretzels
Plums, peaches, melon

Cook Once, Eats for the Week: Tex Spiced Chicken

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This is a lovely spice rub I have used for all kinds of chicken….whole to cubed. I have put it in quesadillas, stuffed tacos with it, grilled it on a salad, made killer nachos, and used it to prep chicken for countless casseroles and rice dishes. My favorite is in this version of Chicken Georgia.

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Tex Spice Rub
1 roasting chicken, 4-5 thighs or 4 breasts
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Chicken Georgia via Texas
Gather:
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon butter
1 green bell pepper
1/2 container of cremini mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
4-6 slices of Monterrey jack or mozzarella cheese

To make:
Rub chicken with Tex Spice Rub and heat grill.
In sauté pan melt butter with onions over medium heat, adding bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, agave, and spices once onions begin to soften. Continue cooking until onions and peppers caramelize, stirring now and then while you grill the chicken.
To serve, top hot chicken with sauté mixture and slice of jack or mozzarella cheese.
Serve With: Tex-Mex potatoes, Cilantro Lime Rice, Sour Cream Corn or Grilled Zucchini

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce
This is my version of a PIn I found from Joyful Momma’s Kitchen. It has quickly become a favorite
Gather:
10 corn tortillas
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (rotisserie or tex roasted)
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (you could even do pepper jack)
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
2 (4 oz) can diced green chillies
Splash of pickled jalapeño juice
Optional: pickled jalapeños to layer on top of cheese upon removing from oven
To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8×8 pan.
In a bowl, mix chicken, 1 can green chilies, and 1 cup of Jack cheese. Spoon tablespoonfuls of chicken mixture into tortillas, roll up, and place in pan. In a sauté pan over medium heat, make a roux with melted butter and flour. Cook at least one-two minutes. Add broth, jalapeño juice (for a kick), 1 cup of Jack cheese, and second can of green chilies. Whisk until smooth. Continue cooking over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low, and stir in sour cream. Do not boil. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake covered 30 minutes until bubbly. Remove foil and broil 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese. Do not walk away.

Be super lazy (or genius) and layer sauce, tortillas, and chicken mixture to create a sour cream enchilada lasagna!

I do use Lexi’s tips- her blog is awesome.

You can make this ahead and keep it in the fridge up to 24 hours. Just put it in the oven and increase the time a bit. You will want to make sure they are heated through.
**This sauce does not freeze well. The enchiladas themselves freeze really well. I freeze a few pans of them double wrapped in foil and then I just make the sauce the day of. Thaw them first, add the sauce, cook according to original instructions.”

Tex-Mex Potatoes
Gather:
4-6 small red skinned or Yukon gold potatoes
1/3 onion, diced
1/3 each, red & green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt, pepper and chili powder to taste
To make:
Cube and boil potatoes until just fork tender. Drain. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a pan over medium high heat. Sauté onion, peppers, and garlic until softened. Add potatoes. Season liberally with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook several minutes to combine flavors.

Cilantro Lime Rice
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makes approximately 4-6 servings
Gather:
1 cup of white or brown rice, rinsed
juice of 1 medium lime
1 1/2-2 cups of low sodium chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon of salt
3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon of unflavored oil

To make:
In a small saucepan, add rice, water/stock, oil and salt with half of the lime juice. Boil on high until most of the water evaporates. When water skims the top of the rice, reduce to low, cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to rest an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with a for, mix in cilantro and remaining lime juice and serve.

Watermelon Lush
watermelon lush

Blend:
1 cup ginger ale
2 cups watermelon, cubed
2 cups ice
1/2 lime, juiced
1 handful mint
pick your poison, mine would be a shot of tequila
simple syrup, to taste

Tostitos Corn Chips
Something to try next time you’re shopping…pick up some of these… organic, no artificial preservatives, and gluten free.

Hot Meals in a Hurry – 10# of Beef into 8 Quick Meals

This time of year is bustling with things to do and sometimes I feel like our budget is hemorrhaging nickels and dimes. It’s cold outside and a hot meal at the end of a long day always sounds nice. Get dinner to the table in a hurry with these quick fix meals. All of the recipes below freeze well, so you could even have one prep day that lasts for a couple of weeks. They all call for ground meat, so give your feet and your wallet a break. You can often find ground beef or turkey in value size packs and break it up for several meals. Or, if you just picked up deer from the processor, venison works great too!
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Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas
adapted sauce portion from http://www.recipegirl.com/2006/05/01/enchilada-sauce/
Gather:
12-16 tortillas, your preference
1 ½# ground meat
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoon chili powder*
2 teaspoon salt*
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder*
1 teaspoon ground cumin*
1/3 cup beef broth
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoon chili powder*
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin*
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder*
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
½ teaspoon salt*
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Sharp cheddar cheese, grated

* split – used for meat filling and for sauce

To Prepare:
Brown meat with onion and spices. Add beef broth and simmer about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make sauce. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; whisk in flour and chili powder to make a roux. Cook while whisking until lightly browned. Gradually whisk in tomato sauce, broth, cumin, garlic powder, onion salt, salt, and oregano. Stir until smooth, and continue simmering over medium heat about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Roll enchiladas, top with sauce. Cover in plastic wrap, then foil and freeze OR top with cheese, cover in foil and bake 30-45 minutes at 350 until bubbly. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted. If frozen, thaw in fridge overnight, then bake as usual.

Sloppy Joes
adapted from http://realmomkitchen.com/99/moms-sloppy-joes/
Gather:
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 # ground meat
Salt and pepper, to taste
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 teaspoon chili powder
2 Tablespoons vinegar
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* if I wasn’t cooking for man! I would add in a little mustard too

To Prepare:
Sweat onions and garlic over medium low in a skillet. Add ground meat, salt & pepper, and brown; drain. Add all remaining ingredients to ground meat and simmer on low for twenty minutes. Serve on buns or as sliders on rolls.

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Quick & Dirty Rice
Gather:
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1# ground beef
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2# bulk pork sausage
2c low sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1 bay leaf
1 whirl of the pan Worcestershire sauce
4-6 good shakes hot sauce
1c long grain white rice

To Prepare:
In a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in the onion, green and sweet peppers, and garlic. Cook over medium heat 5-10 minutes until softened. Scoot veggies around outside of pan and add ground beef, salt, seasoned salt, and pepper to center. Cook and stir until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Drain and discard any excess grease. Scoot the meat/veggie mixture to the edge of pan and add sausage to center. Cook until browned and crumbly. Stir in the chicken broth, sage, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and rice. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

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Freeze Ahead Supreme Pizza Pasta
adapted from http://www.savingyoudinero.com/2012/09/17/part-3-1-hour-1-mess-5-crock-pot-meals/- Spaghetti Casserole
This has been a hit with the kids. I found it as a crockpot meal, and tweaked it a little, but hours & hours seemed like overkill. You can thaw and heat on the stove for a quick to the table dinner – it needs just long enough for flavors to meld.

Makes 2 quart bags w/ little leftovers
Gather:
1 ½ # ground meat (maybe split between sausage & ground beef)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes or sauce
2 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cracked pepper
12 oz spaghetti or other pasta – I used spiral (would use a little less pasta, ½ box)
2 cups shredded cheese (I used Mexican mix)
1 sleeve pepperoni (chop and add at end)
1 small can sliced black olives (added last 30 min)
1 handful green olives (added last 30 min)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (added last 30 min)
6 Tablespoons of parmesan cheese (added last 30 min)

To Prepare:
Brown ground meat. Drain and cool completely. Add it to the freezer bag with the green pepper, onion, celery, garlic cloves, tomatoes, chili pepper, salt, and pepper. Lay flat & freeze. Label Bag. Trust me, if you don’t you forget and it becomes unidentifiable frozen food.
Just thaw & heat! The last 30 minutes, add olives, oregano and parmesan. When it’s almost done, cook pasta according to package and drain. Add cooked pasta, 1 cup of cheese and pepperoni to the dish and mix well. Add more cheese to the top and serve!

Hopefully this will get you going. Feel free to supercharge any of the above recipes by adding in shredded carrot, zucchini, or spinach.
We all could use the nutrient power punch extra veggies lend a dish, not to mention the fabulous fiber. I also try to stock the freezer with browned meat for tacos, toquitos, pizza topping, or meat sauce that will come together quickly. Try pre-portioning out hamburger patties and freezing those to have on hand. Lasagna and meatloaf can also pull double duty. The next time you make one, make an extra and freeze it!

Summer classics with a little kick

I recently took Man for a tour of the Robertson and Firestone Distillery, home of TX Whiskey. Coupled with lunch at Tim Love’s Love Shack for burgers, it made for a fun double date.

I could just sit all day in the barrel room and breathe in that warm, rich, almost honey nut smell. One whiff, and I was daydreaming recipes.

The second recipe that came to mind is from one of my favorite cookbooks. 20130614-223119.jpg

Whiskey and peaches…and shortcakes, oh my!

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Whiskey, Peaches & Cream

3-4 peaches, sliced (Parker County is a great pick)

2-4 T superfine sugar (depending on the ripeness of your peaches)

1 shot of your favorite Whiskey or straight bourbon

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise & seeds scraped (divided)

1/2 cup whipping cream

Soak peaches and 1/2  vanilla bean with sugar and whiskey, cover and chill 2 hours-overnight.  In a cold bowl, beat whipped cream until foamy.  Add other 1/2 of bean’s seeds, 2T superfine sugar (if you keep the pod in your sugar jar, viola – vanilla sugar)

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This recipe is flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, salt and some cream – nothing fancy, just some great biscuits.  Perfect for chocolate gravy when all the summer fruit has faded into fall.

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It was a warm afternoon, but by the time we made it upstairs to take a peak at the mash it was hot.

HOT weather – needs iced tea.

Getting my butt kicked daily – need bourbon.

Thus, kicked in the seat sweet tea.

Kicked in the Seat Sweet Tea
1 sweet orange
1 quart water
2 Luzianne family size iced tea bags
1/2 -1 cup simple syrup
1/4 t baking soda
Some of your favorite Whiskey or Bourbon (I like Knob Creek straight bourbon)
1 day you feel like life has particularly kicked your butt

Boil one quart water. While water boils, take paring knife and peel several citrus curls from the orange. If you don’t know what a citrus curl is, just gently go around the orange with the knife at a slight angle (stay between the skin and the pith, or white). When water boils, turn off and remove from heat. Steep two Luzianne family size tea bags 3-5 minutes. To a pitcher, add 1/2 c simple syrup, juice from one sweet orange, 1/4 t baking soda, and tea. Stir well. Taste test; goal:  very sweet strong tea.
In an old-fashioned glass, put several ice cubes, 1/2-2 oz bourbon (depending on how hard you got kicked), and fill with iced tea. Garnish with your orange curl. Visualize the front porch.
Should make four servings.

Not your average BBQ

This year, I will not have, burgers and dogs.

This year, no brisket.

This year, no crawfish. (Okay, we’ve never had crawfish)

This year, something worthy of encore fireworks.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

20130618-161838.jpgTake half of a watermelon and ball it. Drain the remaining juices through a fine mesh sieve into a quart size pitcher. Fill with water. Add in juice of one lime and several mint sprigs, stir well. If melon is not sweet enough from ripening, add in some simple syrup or honey to desired sweetness. Serves 2

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Tri-Tip Tacos

20130618-162204.jpgGather:

Texas 1015 or other sweet onion, thinly sliced

Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

BBQ Sauce

flour tortillas

smoked tri-tip (Doesn’t Man make a pretty smoke ring?)

To Make:

Rub your tri-tip the night before. Let your meat come to room temperature. Smoke your tri-tip at 225-250 for 2-3 hours depending on doneness. Make sure to rest the meat and cut against the grain – long ways.

Set up a dredging station, season your flour and bread your onion rings. Fry them up until nice and golden.

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Spice up your rested tri-tip with a nice long drizzle of BBQ sauce.

Assemble your tacos…warm tortilla, shredded Monterrey jack, meat, BBQ sauce drizzle, and crispy onions.

Dig in.

Admire the simplicity.

They are good.

Really, you should try them.

Bikini or Brazilian? Do you prefer rum or Cachaca?

I’m getting ready for those lazy evenings by the pool. Lounging in my deck chair, sipping on a cool minty mojito with no schedule to keep. In reality, it will be inside, well after dark, and dishes, because the mosquitos are so bad down here and who with kids gets to lounge by the pool alone? But, a girl can dream.

The other night I did a little pre-prep by making some mint simple syrup. It’s so easy to make simple syrup, I take for granted that this is something everyone does on a regular basis. “No, just me”?

Take 2c water and 1 cup sugar and heat until sugar dissolves. Add flavorings (this time i used 1 bunch of fresh mint). Cool to room temperate and either store in a jar or use.

I like to use simple syrups for drinks because the sugar is already dissolved so it mixes beautifully. From iced tea to lemonade and whiskey sours…syrups infused with lemon, orange, ginger…the possibilities are endless! I’ve always had good results. Another sweetener I plan to try is agave, but more on that later.

All that’s left is to stock up on club soda, limes, clip some mint from the garden, and I’m ready to muddle my way into June!

How do you get ready for that much celebrated first official day of summer? Bikini or Brazilian? Do you prefer the Cuban original with rum or the Brazilian version made with Cachaca?