Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chicken Skillet

I hope you all had a great Christmas! I haven't downloaded the pictures from our camera so I'm not going to be sharing photos of our fun with you... yet.  However, I will give a brief account of our latest trip. We planned on driving 4 hours on the 21st (our anniversary) and staying in a suite (translate = our son in a separate sleeping area from us) in a hotel that had an indoor swimming pool. I don't know why but I was super excited about this! Then on the 22nd we were going to head up to Hubby's parent's house... That was the plan. This was totally changed by a snowstorm that gave our area over a foot of snow and basically made the mountains scary at best (Chains were advised). We also found out our car was leaking fluids (and got it checked out but the repair place was so busy it will be until next week until we get it fixed!) So we stayed home that day. We did go out to dinner but it was less than satisfactory (floaty in hubby's drink, dirty plate at the salad bar, just to name a few items... unfortunately it was the only sit-down restaurant open in our small town due to the snow (there are only 3 to choose from normally.) Then to top off our anniversary, a wasp crawled up my pants and stung me just above my knee. OUCH! At the end of the day all I wanted to do was cry! We did end up heading up to the in-laws the next day and had a wonderful visit with them. We returned on two days ago. It started snowing again yesterday and is continuing today. It's beautiful outside.

I think I have actually only made two meals in the past two weeks... crazy, but true. I didn't do a poll this week because I was tired and didn't feel like it, instead I'm choosing the recipe I am going to post next Thursday (Cheesecake muffins) and Monday things will return to normal. I hope you all have a happy new year!

For now, here is the Chicken Skillet recipe:

Chicken Skillet

First, prepare rice. I use brown rice so it takes the whole time this meal is being cooked to cook.
I also use a rice cooker (it's on its last leg and I'll be so sad when it dies - it was a wedding present.)
Next, empty one can black beans and one can corn in a colander and rinse them.
Measure out 1/2 cup salsa.
I like using thick and chunky salsa.
Cook 1/2 to 1 chicken breast per person (I tend to use less meat than a whole breast per person. I cut the breasts up into smaller pieces to cook.) Sprinkle each piece of chicken with chili powder.
Pan fry until cooked through, remove from pan.
Place 1 cup water in the pan and the salsa.
Add the beans and corn.
Cook until heated through - about 5 minutes.
Serve over rice.
This meal is delicious, but so easy!
Plus it only uses one pan ;). Fewer dishes!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu: Dec 6-12

It's been one of those weeks that if I wasn't living it, I wouldn't believe that all this could happen to one family. Okay not quite that bad, but still... I normally don't discuss most happenings in my life, but I feel I need to write about this so here goes:  Last Monday my grandfather fell and broke his hip. He went to the hospital and they kept him overnight and did surgery on Tuesday. My husband also had a doctor appointment on that day and later we went to our congregation's Christmas dinner - we were helping the children put on the Nativity program. Afterward we went to the hospital where I left my husband and son (because my son couldn't go back) to see my grandfather in ICU, it was at that time they decided that he needed to go to a 'big city hospital' and so arrangements were made to transport him by ambulance.

Friday my mom went out to see him and I got to help take care of my little sister Friday afternoon through Saturday evening. She has some involved health requirements... she has a monitor on that alarms when her oxygen levels get too low and her heart rate gets to high. So I got minimal sleep on Friday night making sure she was breathing right. Saturday we got the call that my grandfather had passed away. He is now with is beloved wife so we are happy for him, but sad to say goodbye. That evening my mom got back and took my sister to the ER as she hadn't been doing too great. One of her seizure medications was too high. Totally unrelated but still a frustration - the washer had been leaking so we had to buy a new hose. As soon as I got home and it was installed we didn't have running water for almost 2 hours. So by that time I had enough time to do 2 loads of laundry before bedtime. Unfortunately I'd been putting it off so we had a pile up that I'm still trying to dig though.  Sunday my sister's heart rate went really high (140 resting) and so she went back in to the ER. She was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia and put into the hospital.

As it stands, my sister is in the hospital, we have family coming for the funeral later this week. Then next week it is my 5th wedding anniversary and Christmas. Due to this I will not be posting until Dec 28 or 29, with a menu of the most interesting items I've actually made during my break (I am not going to be cooking very often.) The Chicken Skillet Recipe will be posted on the 30th.

I hope you all have a great Christmas.

Menu (sorry no pics this week):

Monday: Take out Pizza
Tuesday: Congregation Christmas Dinner
Wednesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs
Thursday: Meatball Sub (we had leftover meatballs in marinara sauce on a hoagie bun with parmesan and mozzarella cheese.)
Friday: Ate out
Saturday: Chicken Salad Sandwich
Sunday: BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (Shredded chicken heated in bbq sauce.)

No vote this week.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Twice Baked Potatoes

Growing up it seemed like every time we went to visit my paternal grandparents we had twice baked potatoes. I remember once trip we finally arrived late in the evening, probably around 8-9 PM. After a 5 hour drive it was nice to finally be at our destination, but something even nicer? Grandpa had a whole cookie sheet of twice baked potatoes ready to heat up for us. Absolutely delicious! I don't think I will ever make them as good as I remember my grandfather making them, but these are definitely worth sharing. They always have a place on my families Thanksgiving table - they can be made a day or two ahead of time and then heated before dinner.

I hope you enjoy these as much as our family does!
Twice Baked Potatoes
First, you'll need to wash some russet potatoes. (You can use red, but the skin is better on the russet.) Prick each potato with a fork.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for an hour (unless they are larger russet potatoes in which case you will need to cook them longer.)
 You'll want to error on the side of cooking longer than necessary, The skins will be crisp.
 Remove to a work station. You want to work quickly once the potatoes are out of the oven as making mashed potatoes with a baked potato that has set for a while doesn't work so great. Just trust me on that one.
 Cut a potato in half (eyeball it, they don't have to be perfect!)
 Check for any rotting spots or bruises, you'll want to cut them out.
 Scoop the white flesh out of the potato skin with a spoon being careful not to break the skin open. Place in a bowl.
 Place the scraped out peels on a cookie sheet, you'll be using them later.
But for now we're going to get back to the bowl of potato innards.
 Add butter (about 1/3 cup), cream (I like using half cream and half sour cream) - add until it is creamy,
and season salt (this is a must, it's how Grandpa makes it!) to taste. I actually usually use some season salt and the rest table salt.
 Beat (or mash) until mixed completely.
 Nice and creamy.
Now to get back to those reserved potato peels. 
 Fill the potato skins with the mashed potatoes. There will be a bit more mashed potato than will be level in the skins, so feel free to add a bit more to each skin.
Leave a slight indent in the middle of the mashed potato.
 Add one strip of butter to each potato.
 Don't be afraid of the butter!
 Next, top with shredded cheddar cheese.
 That's why we love these!
 The potato, cream, butter and cheese! My mouth is watering.
 If desired sprinkle with paprika.
 Grandpa always sprinkled his with paprika.
 So I do it too, sometimes when cooking for a crowd (especially one with picky eaters) I leave some without the paprika. At this point you can refrigerate them for a day or two before baking the second time.
 Bake in an oven until cheese is melted (you will want to bake about 5 minute longer to make sure the potato is warm if these were refrigerated before baking.)
 Serve immediately.
 These are seriously so good you have to try them!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu: Nov 29- Dec 5

 We had a pretty good menu this past week (Monday was an exception...) Tuesday I bought two pre-seasoned roaster chickens that were reduced for quick sell. I cooked both and used them for dinner for 3 nights. I also just realized that we have steak in the freezer downstairs! It happens when you get a part of a cow. I'm not use to having anything but ground beef (except on special occasions!) So we're probably going to be having dishes involving steaks more (as you can see by this week's menu.)

Here's our menu: 
Monday: Frozen Pizza

Tuesday: Roasted Chicken (with salad)
Wednesday: Leftover Chicken & Breakfast Potatoes
Thursday: Mediterranean Pasta (with chicken)
Friday: Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms and Onions
Saturday: Delicious Chicken Skillet

Sunday: Swiss Steak (Made by my mom)

Be sure to vote for the recipe you want to see on Thursday! Twice Baked Potatoes won the last poll and will be posted on Thursday.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak

I don't make Chicken Fried Steak very often, but it is one of those dishes that is so homey and should be served with a helping of mashed potatoes. (Okay so when I made it we had mashed sweet potatoes...) I have to admit that for years while making Chicken Fried Steak I could never make it so the breading would say on. The breading would fall off either when cooking or when cutting into it. It would drive me nuts! I could never figure out what I was doing wrong, until two years ago. I learned that dipping the steak in flour after pounding it really helps the breading to cling to it. It works marvelously!

Chicken Fried Steak
 Place one cube/round steak on a piece of plastic wrap.
 Cover with another piece of plastic wrap.
 Now pound the steak - I do not own a meat mallet, mainly because I rarely need them - so I improvised.
 Pound well to tenderize. It helps to move from the center toward the outside.
 Remove top piece of plastic wrap.
 Dip steak in flour - you can salt and pepper the flour to help give flavor.
 Coat opposite side with flour as well.
 Then dip in beaten eggs (1 egg works for 2 steaks).
 Coat other side with egg.
 Coat in bread crumbs (if desired add herbs to the crumbs.) You can also use panko or cracker crumbs.
 Coat both sides in bread crumbs.
 Fry in a medium to medium-high pan using some oil. I used 3-4 Tbsp oil. Flip after about 8 minutes, and cook on second side for 6 minutes. Internal temp should be 160 for well done steak.