Back to work

Tomorrow I’m officially back from maternity leave working full time. I’ve weened the baby so I’ve started up my weight watchers plan again. To help out with all these changes, I have planned out meals for the entire week as well as a shipping list and prep cooking for tomorrow.  We shall see how the week goes.

image

It’s a scribbled sort of organizing.

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Back to work

Tomorrow I’m officially back from maternity leave working full time. I’ve weened the baby so I’ve started up my weight watchers plan again. To help out with all these changes, I have planned out meals for the entire week as well as a shipping list and prep cooking for tomorrow.  We shall see how the week goes.

image

It’s a scribbled sort of organizing.

Weekend Warrior

Last weekend, I decided that the week ahead was looking tricky.  I did my weekly grocery shopping towards the beginning of the weekend, to allow myself time to prepare multiple meals that would serve as dinners and lunches for the whole week.  It also just so happened that my latest issue of Food Network Magazine had just arrived, and as usual, I had torn out some recipes I wanted to try. Over the course of two days I made 5 different meals, half of which I put in containers and froze for later on in the week.  2 of these were inspired by recipes I cut out of the magazine.

Batch cooking (as long as you are actually consuming your leftovers, not throwing a lot of them away), is both a money saver and a time saver during the week.  If you are like me, you have a well stocked pantry.  This also helps cut your grocery spending down.  I ended up only needing to purchase the meat, special cheese and fresh veggies.

My menu for the week included Chicken and Spanish Rice, Crock Pot Pork Roast and Beans, French Onion Soup,Spicy Penne with Swiss Chard, and Buffalo Chicken Salad.    I will post the recipes for all of these over the week, but today I am just doing the Chicken and Spanish Rice.

Before I get started I have to apologize.  Most of these recipes do not have photos of the finished product, just during the cooking process.  Also, Some of the pictures are not the greatest quality.  When you are juggling taking care of an infant, a husband, and cooking multiple things at the same time, compromises have to be made.

This chicken and rice meal has been slightly adapted from something my dad used to make for dinner all the time when I was young.  Smelling this as it was cooking reminded so much of home.  I love when I get to share that part of my childhood with people.  For my dad, food has always been his way of showing affection, so recreating his recipes and sharing them with my friends and family is definitely a feel good affair.

Here is what you will need.

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Ingredients:

One Whole Chicken cut into 8 pieces (breasts, wings, legs, thighs)

2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock

1 10oz can of Red Enchilada Sauce

1 1/2 Cups White Basmati Rice

1 Celery Stalk Diced

1 Medium Yellow Onion Diced

3 Cloves of Garlic Diced

1 Red Bell Pepper Diced

1 1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin

1 Tsp Chili Powder

1 Tsp Oregano

Salt and Pepper to taste

Here is what you do.

Cut up your chicken.  I cut my chick up into 8 pieces, and then cut the breasts in half because they were really large.

Salt and Pepper all sides of the chicken pieces,

In a large stock pot, Brown the chicken on both sides over medium high heat.  This should take about 2 minutes per side.  Take the chicken out of the pot, lower the heat just a little, and add in your diced onion, diced pepper, and diced celery. After the veggies start to release some liquid, give them a stir and scrape the bottom of the pot to get up all the yummy brown flavor bits from browning the chicken.

When the onions are translucent, add the Garlic, Cumin, Chili Powder, and Oregano, and let cook for a minute, or until the garlic is fragrant in the pot. We add the herbs and spices here to let them toast a little with the veggies to help bring out their oils and flavor.

Add the rice and stir.  Let the rice toast a little until it too starts to turn translucent, then you can add the liquids.  Letting the rice toast a little adds a nice nutty flavor to the dish. Remember rice usually cooks at a two to one ration.  Two parts liquid to one part Rice is the standard. In this instance, I am including the Enchilada sauce in my liquid measurements.

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After you pour in the liquids, give everything a good stir, making sure to scrape the bottom still.  We want all that flavor to come up!

Nestle your chicken pieces back into the pot and bring it up to a boil.  Turn your heat down to a simmer and cover until the liquid is gone, your rice is tender, and the chicken is cooked through.  This usually take about 12-15 minutes.

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This is comfort cooking in one pot.  It is one of my all time favorites.  If you want to jazz it up a little more, you can serve it with a shave of cheddar cheese over the top and some green onions.  Remember, this is 8 (or 10) pieces of chicken, so it serves 6.  That is a lot of food for two people!  Needless to say, we ate this throughout the week.

Oh I forgot,I also made some brownies from the box, because you cant have all this tasty savory food with out some dessert!

So delicious!

So delicious! If you can follow directions, you can bake brownies.  Read the box.  🙂

Bon Appetite!

Stay tuned for Crock Pot Pork Roast and Beans!

Long time no see, and just in time for Fall.

Well things have shifted majorly in my world. I realize its been over a year since my last update. Since then I have gotten a new job, moved, got pregnant, had a beautiful baby girl, and after a very brief maternity leave (if you want to call it that), I am back working part time from home.

10710790_10152422381540888_4426890037188315255_nWhile this cutie pie is napping I have sometime to start dinner, and post.

During my pregnancy, I didn’t have any of those “crazy pregnancy cravings” you hear so much about.  Chalk it up to my enjoyment of most foods, or what have you, I found myself eating the same foods as usual, when I wanted to eat.  That was the problem.  I was exhausted most of the time, still working 40 + hours a week, to cook food.  On top of that, nothing really sounded good.  I ate a lot of cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, and there were many a night of bread/cheese/meat plates.  It was summer after all, and we had just moved to a second story apartment with no A/C.  I was NOT going to be turning on the oven any time soon.  None of this made for good writing material in my opinion.  I have a food blog dedicated to celebrating food, not whining about how my condition makes things sound yucky.

Getting to the point, its now autumn, my favorite time of year.  I have had weeks of doing nothing but child rearing and watching the food network, and I’ve been itching to get back in the kitchen.  I’ve been warming up the past couple weeks starting off with roasted root veggies and chicken, some soups, and baking cornbread.

Tonight’s dinner started early.  Pot Roast!  Pot Roast is one of those meals that immediately brings me back to holiday dinners at my grandmother’s, and while I make my pot roast differently than she did, the end result is that same comforting meaty hug.  Remember, pot roast takes some time to cook if you want that truly fall apart, melt in your mouth, tenderness, so give yourself time.

I’m starting off with a 2lb chuck roast.  There are only two of us eating, and this will stretch from dinner tonight to lunches tomorrow (pot roast is the one leftover my husband gobbles up).  If you are serving 4 or more and want some leftovers, choose a 4+ lb roast.  I should also mention, this can be done with a Brisket as well, but you will need to alter the cooking time.  I am allowing 3 hours per pound of meat.  I don’t use a meat thermometer with pot roast to tell if its done.  I simply stick a fork in it and try to pull some meat off.  If it comes off easy, its done, plus I get to sneak a taste before dinner.  😀

You can cook a pot roast on its own, but I like to add some starchy veggies to cook in with the meat and soak up all that beefy goodness as they roast together.  You can use, turnips, potatoes, corn, parsnips, carrots, whatever you fancy.  Since its fall, I have been into the seasonal root veggies.  I found some Parsnips and Rainbow Carrots at the produce market, so that’s what I am using along side two smallish yellow onions, and the half empty container of baby bella mushrooms I found in the back of my refrigerator (oops).

I started this process by chopping the parsnips and carrots into 1 inch pieces, and quartering the onions.  In a pan I heated up about 3 Tbsp of Olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter.  I browned all of my veggies with some salt and pepper first, just to get some color, and added them to my cooking vessel (dutch oven, deep casserole dish, roasting pan, whatever you are using).

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Then I seasoned (generous sprinkle of salt and pepper) and browned the meat on both sides creating a crust that will keep everything nice and juicy.

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This took about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, medium high heat.

I set this bad boy on top of my veggies, and poured in 1/3 of a cup of chicken stock into the sizzling hot pan to pull up all the yummy brown bits that stuck to the bottom, and then poured it all over the meat and veggies. You can substitute the Chicken stock for beef, veggie, a nice dark beer, or even water.

I added 1 can of diced tomatoes, a few dashes of Worcester Sauce, a few dashes of red wine vinegar, and enough chicken stock to come up about half way on the meat (about 2 cups).

This is going to cook at 275 until done.  Like I said, about 3 hours/lb, so mine will cook about 6 hours.

The finished product!  Now time to eat.

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Pot Roast Dinner for Two

2 Medium Yellow Onions

2 Parsnips

4 Rainbow Carrots

Any amount of Baby Bella Mushrooms (I used about 1 cup)

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

2 Lb Chuck Roast

1 14.5 oz Can Diced Tomatoes

2 1/3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock

1 Tbsp Worcester Sauce

1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste