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!

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Game Night Guinea Pigs

Over the past year or so, it has become increasingly obvious that I am the sort of person who requires lots of motivation to get most anything done. When that motivation strikes, I need to act on it immediately!
So, when the motivation to organize my kitchen and living room struck, I immediately formulated a plan that would not allow room for any excuses. I invited people over for game night, forcing us to clean up and prepare for company.
Turns out, this plan was two fold. Now that we had company coming over, I needed to feed them! This got me really excited.

My local meat guy at Cason’s Fine Meats has an excellent variety of beef and pork cuts. Every time I go in there I stare at the oxtails wondering to myself if this is an ingredient I want to play with. Well, I finally got to actually try some braised oxtail when we were in Jamaica and I was so disappointed in myself for not having tried them sooner! They are fatty, cartilaginous chunks of goodness, and while that may not sound so appealing, just look at them.

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I had the perfect reason to try them out, and get feedback as well!

Here is what I did.
I marinated them overnight in red wine. I used the Yellow Tail Shiraz since that’s what we had laying around (leftover from the wedding).
In the morning, I drained them and tossed them in a spice rub. I put them in my crockpot with one roughly chopped onion, 4 whole cloves of garlic, 2 cups of crushed tomatoes, 2 tbsps of cider vinegar, and 1 heaping tbsp of whole grain mustard. I let these bad boys cook on low for 8 – 10 hours or until the fat has mostly rendered off and the meat falls from the bone.

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Spice Rub:
2 tbsp Chili Powder
1 1/2 tbsp Cumin
1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tbsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Traditionally these are served over rice since the pot juices are equally as delicious. I served them with some mashed potatoes and some collard greens picked that day from my own garden!

Collards

I have had quite the yield of greens from my garden so I have been making them frequently. Most of the time I cook them with bacon, in bacon fat, but since the oxtails contained enough fat for the week, I decided to make them “skinny”

Ingredients:
1 lbs Collard Greens
1 Yellow Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic grated/zested right into the pan
2 Cups of Chicken Stock (Tip: Use low sodium to control the amount of salt)
2 Cups of sliced Crimini Mushrooms
1 Tbsp of Lemon Zest
1/4 Cup of Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp of Whole Grain Mustard
1 Tbsp of Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp of Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
1. Sautee onions in a bit of olive oil, on medium/high heat until they start to become translucent.
2. While the onions are sweating, cut the stems off the greens (they are fibrous and bitter) and cut the greens in to 1 inch strips.
3. Add the remainder of the ingredients and bring everything up to a boil.
4 Reduce the heat to low and put a lid on the pot.
5. Let them simmer on low for about 45 minutes, or until the leaves become a brownish green and are tender to bite through. They should not be bitter at all. If they are still bitter, continue cooking.

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I received high praises from my game night buddies, and I won our rousing game of Cards Against Humanity.
All in all, a successful evening.

Ps: I have to mention that these photographs are not of my actual food. They are google searched images since I was too busy being a host and cleaning to take pictures of my food along the way. Sorry!