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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Enchilada Experiment

I invited my future in-laws over for dinner last night so that I could have an excuse to make food in larger quantities than two servings.  I have been in a Mexican food mood lately, so I decided to make Chicken Enchiladas.  Now, I would like to first say that I had never made enchiladas before, so I didn’t photo document the process, just in case the entire thing was a failure.  Failure enchiladas do not get documented for all to read.  It turns out they were quite successful, so I took final product pictures.

Also, during the “planning the menu” process, I really wanted to make deviled eggs as an appetizer.   Then I thought, “Deviled eggs are not really in the same theme as Enchiladas.  How can I make them more…Mexican?”  Just as I was thinking this, I scrolled down my Google search to these.  Perfect!  Guacamole Deviled Eggs, and my oh my were they good.  I didn’t follow this recipe, but I will tell you what I did.

These recipes fed 6 people with left overs.

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

10 Hard Boiled Eggs

½ Orange Bell Pepper

1 Jalapeño Pepper

1 Lime

1 Large Avocado

1 Tomato

¾ tsp Salt

¾ tsp of Spike seasoning mix

Fresh Cilantro for garnish

Here’s what you do.  Get out your handy-dandy food processor.  Trust me, it makes your life so much easier.  Actually, we just got one as a wedding gift and I used it for everything in these recipes.  I was tickled pink with it.

Slice the eggs lengthwise and put all the yokes in the food processor.  Lay the empty egg whites on a plate to be refilled with the filling you are about to make.

Next, into the food processor goes your avocado.  Pulse it until its smooth.  Add the juice of your 1 lime and mix.  Then add the bell pepper and cilantro and pulse until the pepper is barely visible in the mixture.  Do the same with the jalapeño.

NOTE:  Jalapeño peppers can be quite spicy.  If you do not want your eggs to be spicy, make sure you clean the seeds and veins out of the pepper.  If it is still an overwhelming flavor, try cooking the pepper a little to mute the flavor.  I used half of a pepper, took out the seeds but left in the veins for a bright fresh flavor with a little kick.

Taste your mixture.  If you taste too much pepper, try adding more avocado and/or lime juice. 

Next add your salt and Spike to taste.  Dice up your tomato and fold the pieces in by hand.  Your food processor will pulverize the tomato and pull out too much moisture into the filling.

Now it’s time to refill the eggs.  You can spoon the mixture back into the eggs if you so choose.  You can also make your own piping bag by taking a Ziploc Freezer back, loading your mixture into one corner, and snipping off the tip of the corner so that you can squeeze the filling out through the hole.

Fill up the eggs and top with some chopped fresh cilantro for garnish.

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Now for the Enchiladas.  I made my own Enchilada sauce using this recipe exactly, so I won’t go through it. 

Notes on ingredients:

Tortillas:  I used extra thin corn tortillas. After baking, they kind of lost their integrity and ended up being more like a casserole.  A tasty, tasty casserole.  If you use regular corn tortillas, they will stand up to the baking process more and you will be able to serve up individual enchiladas.

Cheese:  I used a light shredded Mexican blend.  Regular, whole fat cheese melts MUCH nicer and will actually bubble up and brown on the top.  Light cheese is missing the fat content that allows for this.

Ingredients:

Corn Tortillas

Enchilada Sauce

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Queso Fresco Cheese

Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend

1 Jalepeño

½ Sweet onion

2 cloves of garlic

Tomatillo Salsa

These have a chicken and cheese filling.  I used my handy dandy food processor for both.

Cheese Filling – In the food processor, put 1 package of Queso Fresco (broken in to chunks), onion (rough chopped), garlic (whole or chopped), and jalapeño.  I cleaned the jalapeño, removed all seeds and veins and cooked them in a sauté pan for a couple of minutes to get more of a roasted pepper flavor.  Make sure you cool them down before adding them to the cheese.  Blend everything together until you have one homogenous mixture.

Chicken Filling – Cook your chicken however you want.  I cooked mine in the tomatillo salsa because I think it gives it great flavor.  Cube the cooked chicken and throw it into the food processor. (Clean your food processor between uses.  I should hope that is a given.)  Pulse it until is shredded, and put it in a bowl.  That was easy.

Now make yourself a station.  I had my fillings and steamed tortillas on my left, and enchilada sauce and tray on my right.

Note on tortillas:  You really need to soften them before attempting to roll them or they will crack.  Wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave the tortillas for 30-45 seconds or until warm.

Start by ladling a bit of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the tray.  Dip on side of the tortilla in the enchilada sauce, and lay it down on your assembly plate dry side down.  Put your fillings in, wrap them up and place them in the pan.  When your tray is full, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top and make sure everything is coated.  Sprinkle your shredded cheese over the top.

Bake in a 400° oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubble and browning on the top.

I encourage you to let it sit for a few minutes before digging in.  It will be smoldering hot.

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We served this with sour cream and Aardvark’s Secret Sauce at the table, but you can add any condiments you want. 

Prepare yourselves for food coma, because this was really hard to stop eating!