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General Tso Chicken

Still on my Asian kick. Tonight’s super easy dinner was also yummy!  Boneless chicken breast baked in General Tso sauce while veggies cooked on the stovetop and rice cooked in the rice cooker.

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For the sauce (most jarred sauce have tomatoes so are a no-no for me):

2 Tbsp. oil

6 Tbsp. minced garlic

1/4 c. minced ginger

1 c. sugar

3/4 c. soy sauce

1/2 c. rice wine vinegar

1/2 chicken stock

Cook garlic and ginger until fragrant.  Add in remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat until slightly thickened.  Pour over boneless chicken breasts and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Bake 350F 40- 45 minutes meanwhile cooking rice and sauteeing stir fry vegetables.  I used chop salad, my go to for stir fry.

When chicken is done, cut into bite size pieces and toss in sauce.  Add rice to sauteed stir fry.  Serve chicken over rice.

 

 

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I bought a jar of sauce at Aldi and it sounded like it would pair well with meatballs.   It did!  Plus I tried a new method of making baked potatoes making this a stress free night.

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Regular readers of my blog know I often prepare, bake, and then freeze meatballs ahead.  I prepared these the same night I cooked burgers.  My meat mixture included pesto, bacon jam, sweet pickle relish, an egg, and seasoned breadcrumbs.   The meatballs were baked at 375 for 40 minutes and then I poured the sauce over them and refrigerated them.

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Unfortunately, I forgot to make my baked potatoes in the crockpot, so I tried a new method.

I put olive oil and salt in a bowl and rolled  the washed and dried potatoes (sweet and russet) in it.  I placed them on a sheet pan lined with foil and poked them with a fork.

They took 45 minutes all told at 425F.  I put the meatballs in for the last 20 minutes.

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Sunday morning, I helped out by watching my 5 and 2 year old grandsons while their parents went off to work.  Their other grandma, Tina,  lives there, and treats them to homemade fare regularly.  She’s the one who deserves Grandmother of the Year for all she does.

The boys wanted Mickey waffles, and luckily, their mom had some shake and pour pancake mix on hand.  However, never being one to use just water with any mix, I added an egg, some vanilla, sour cream, and (don’t laugh) coffee creamer.  It makes for fluffier waffles, and beats straight mix.  Grandma Tina had strawberries and whipped cream on hand, so they had the option of a strawberry shortcake Mickey waffle, or simply Mickey with maple syrup.  Yummmmm.

Mickey waffle

I introduced them to the movie “Matilda” and they loved it.  We all love to hate the nasty Miss Trunchbull, right?!?  We all love Miss Honey too.  They were glued to the screen (eating PB&J for lunch).  Hard to believe it’s a movie from 22 years ago.  It really holds up well.  We had it on VHS when my kids were little.

Matilda

Being the food-obsessed person that I am, I offered to prepare the ground meat my daughter had in the fridge.  It’s always harder to work with someone else’s ingredients, but by the time I left, they had precooked meatballs that were in a baking dish with doctored up marina, ready to throw in the oven.  I also prepared cooked taco meat (with instructions of how to make burritos like I make) and meatballs for a night when they wanted Asian inspired teriyaki meatballs.

They just had to cook some spaghetti and garlic toast to accompany the meatballs when they got home.

Sunday dinner

Saturday, being my day off lends itself to being a day to clean, meal plan, and shop.  Some weeks it feels like a chore and others, I remember to count my blessings and enjoy the journey this life is.

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It is always surprising when inspiration comes unexpected sources.  I learned this week of the passing of a first cousin with whom I had lost touch years ago.  Tommy was twelve years older than me, lived 1,200 miles away, and his father, Tom, and my mother, Grace, who were siblings, had a falling out fifty years ago.  I do recall, however, being at my Uncle Tom’s bedside while he was in the VA hospital during his last days, so I am hopeful that my mom and her brother made some sort of peace.  I also have a vivid and emotional memory of the night my cousin flew out of Greater Pittsburgh Airport to go fight in Vietnam.  Chronology is not my strong suit, but I was probably about 8 or 9 years old.  Seeing his mother Jane, his father, and sisters, Sally and Kathi, cry on that rooftop observation deck, the feelings surrounding it all, still brings a lump to my throat.

AirportPgh. Post Gazette archives photo

I have been friends with Kathi on Facebook for a while, and she let me know of his passing.  Since then, I have friended his son, Thomas, who also lost his mother about a year ago.  It made me realize that we all race through life and miss opportunities for connection daily.   At dinner last night with some incredible ladies I am fortunate to call friends, one of them counseled the other to walk slower.  I realized she could be talking to each and every one of us.  Rita even went so far as to say “God gave you a friend with a cane” and I had an aha moment.  It shouldn’t take a death or an injury to slow us down and remind us to live in the moment, but it does.

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As I sat outside and looked over a beautiful garden on a breezy, perfect weather day, I was seeing things as if for the first time.  Although I’m not much of a photographer (yet) I snapped some shots of the garden my surrogate son, Daniel, grows, and the yard that my son, Austin, keeps beautiful.  I hope they can inspire some of you out there to slow down and see the wonder of the world around you.

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There is whimsy.

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There is life.

There is love.

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There is the beauty of this world that is just waiting to be appreciated.

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Somehow the rest of my day just got a whole lot more opportunity and a lot less chore.

 

Having spinach and feta on hand for the lasagna I made the other night inspired me to make these yummy burgers.

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2 lb. ground turkey

1/2 c.  Onion and spinach, chopped and sauteed

1 egg

1/2 c. oats

1/4 c. crumbled feta

Combine ingredients and shape into patties.

Place on baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with coconut oil

Bake at 350F 30-35 minutes or until internal temperature is 165F.  Serve topped with cucumber, onion and carrot matchsticks marinated in rice wine vinegar, water, and sugar.  Ratio – 1/2 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup rice wine vinegar and 1/2 c. water.

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Lasagna without tomatoes?  A recent experiment using hummus on pizza led to tonight’s tomato-less lasagna.  Next time more liquid, but otherwise blogworthy!

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Another part of my inspiration was Daniel’s garden.  Longevity spinach, rosemary and a red pepper added freshness to ingredients that I had on hand.

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2 lb. ground turkey

1 onion, chopped

1 pepper, diced (leave out to be nightshade free)

2 Tbsp olive oil

10 large leaves longevity spinach, chopped

1 bag baby spinach

2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

1 can garbanzo beans

1 container hummus

10 kalimata olives, chopped

Carrots and celery

Salt to sweat vegetables

Lasagna noodles

Shredded cheese for topping.

1/2 c. Crumbled feta.

 

 

Heat oil.  Cook fresh vegetables except baby spinach over medium low about 10 minutes.

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Add in turkey, breaking up and stirring until cooked through.  Add seasonings and spinach and cover.  When spinach is wilted down, add in hummus and garbanzo.  This is where a little more liquid  should be added in.  Live and learn!

Drizzle olive oil in 13×9 lasagne pan.  Layer noodles.  Top with half the meat and spinach mixture and sprinkle with feta.  Layer more noodles.  Top with remaining meat and spinach mixture.  Sprinkle top with shredded cheese  and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until cheese is golden.

 

 

I made two versions.  One nightshade  and dairy free and one not.  Both yummy!!

As you can see, I’m still on the Asian food kick!  I had some leftover pulled pork from the Banh Mi meal, and decided it could use a Korean BBQ sauce and be recreated into an, as it turned out, quite delicious casserole!

Korean BBQ take 3

3-4 C. pulled pork (chicken and ground meats would work well for this too)

3-4 C. cooked rice (I used a wild and brown mix that was – oh yeah – leftover)

1 can Cannelloni beans (always in my pantry, but any beans such as garbanzo or black beans would work too!)

2 C. assorted vegetables (I used celery, carrots, and onions, that I softened in a little oil, butter, and garlic and had in the fridge ready to use.  They also freeze well.)

1/4 C. Korean BBQ sauce (homemade or store bought) – a mix of soy, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar, and chile.

1 C. shredded cheese (I used mac and cheese mix for one dish and Daiya shreds for the other, since I have a son who can’t have dairy.

Combine pork, rice, beans, vegetables, and Korean BBQ sauce.  Place in 13 x 9 baking dish sprayed with coconut oil.  Top with cheese or shreds.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until cheese is golden, meanwhile roasting any vegetables you want to have on the side!

We used “Pickled” cucumbers, onions and carrots as a topping – also from the Banh Mi meal.  (Mostly cucumbers, since my kids and grandkids attached the onions and carrots first!)

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Roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts on the side were prepared by my cousin, who came over with my 90 year old uncle for dinner.

 

I ran across a killer sale on some Asian sauces and chicken at Target.  Jackpot!  Super easy dinner in no time.  My grandsons got a kick out of eating the chicken off the skewers.

I marinated the chicken in store bought sauce and then baked in a jelly roll pan while rice cooked in the rice cooker.  Since the rice takes about 45 minutes,  I cooked the chicken at 300F and turned it off after 30 minutes.

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I cooked a pork butt in the crock pot that had been rubbed with eelsauce and 5 spice.  Yum.  I pickled cucumbers carrot matchstick and thinly sliced onion in 1 c. Rice wine vinegar mixed with 1/2 c each water and sugar.  The only disappointment was the bread which had to be toasted as it was not crunchy enough.  It was a great success!  I can’t wait to try non pork alternatives.

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Pickle the veggies about 30 minutes ahead of serving.  Spread sirracha aioli on bread and assemble.  Enjoy!!

I am crazy about Asian food.  Last night we had Korean Barbecue Chicken and a Rice Melange.  It was delish!

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3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts marinated in Korean BBQ sauce

Sauce:

1 C. soy sauce

3/4 c. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. each ginger and sesame oil

1 Tbsp. each water and corn starch (in a slurry to thicken)

Bring to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add slurry and turn down to low.  Slowly simmer till it thickens.  Pour over chicken in 13 x 9 baking dish sprayed with coconut oil.  (I have bought a bottled Korean BBQ Sauce (Kalbi Bulgogi) from a company called Ajumma Republic and it is really good).  You can marinade the chicken overnight or even freeze it in the sauce for future use.  Once defrosted, bake for 35-40 minutes.  Chop into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears, stir around in sauce, and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Rice Melange:

1 box Near East rosemary garlic brown rice and quinoa (I have found that one packet of seasoning from these boxed rice mixes goes a long way, so no additional seasoning was added to the rice)

1 c. Lundberg Wild Blend Rice

1 c. brown rice

3 c. broth (I used unsalted chicken)

2 1/2 c. water

3 Tbsp. butter

Place in rice cooker.  The rice cooker knows its done when it runs out of liquid, so unplug and remove from heat as soon as the rice cooker clicks over to warm.  Add into the cooked veggies to serve.

Veggies for Rice Melange:

Heat oil of choice in large pot with a little butter.

Saute veggies of choice over low heat.  I used what I had on hand:

1 bag riced cauliflower

1 carrot, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 yellow squash, diced finely.

1 can Cannelloni beans, low sodium

1 tsp. seasoning blend of choice.  I used an Asian inspired one to stay on theme.

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After about 25-30 minutes over low heat, add in one can of beans.  I added Cannelloni because they are our favorite and I always have them on hand.  This way, anyone wanting to stay vegetarian (if you use veggie broth instead of chicken) can eat the rice melange.

 

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