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Grilled Ribeye Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter

16 Jun

Steak with Blue Cheese Butter from EatinontheCheap.com

I would venture to say that most hard-working Dads out there don’t get all of the credit they deserve. I mean, they go to work every day to provide for their families only to be tackled by their children as soon as they walk through the door and commanded to then proceed to be the most entertaining toy in the room. My husband in particular must perform the duties of “the fun parent” at all times. The kids always want him to play with them, take them somewhere, do “guy stuff” with them. He is in charge of all swimming trips to the pool, fun trips “getting lost” and is the purveyor of all things junk food. This is no small task for a man. It’s easy to be the heavy, but to be the one the kids want to hang out with all of the time is exhausting.

Of course, the demands don’t stop with the children. We wives ask a lot of our husbands. It’s their job to mow the yard, take out the trash, fix that thing that broke, and (maybe most importantly) grill dinner. I’m not sure why men get slated for cooking dinner on the grill. We women are perfectly capable, but it is wonderful to be able to hand off the duties of putting together a meal to our better halves every now and then. My husband is especially talented at it. As a matter of fact this is his steak recipe, not mine. Don’t skip the blue cheese butter, that will show your favorite Dad that he’s extra special.

Grilled Ribeye Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 ribeye steaks, about ½ inch thick
  • 1 T plus 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 T plus 1 t. black pepper
  • ½ T sugar
  • ½ T chili powder
  • 1 t. dried onion flakes
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • ¼ t. cumin
  • Blue Cheese Butter:
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 1 t. dried dill
  • ¼ t. Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch of salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat your grill for direct cooking. In a small bowl blend together the spices and set aside. In another small bowl blend together the ingredients for the blue cheese butter and set aside.
  2. Pat your steaks dry with a paper towel and then season both sides liberally with the seasoning.
  3. Cook your steaks over direct heat, about 3 minutes per side for medium rare, 5 minutes per side for medium to medium well, and 7-8 minutes per side for well done.
  4. Top each steak with a dollop of blue cheese butter and serve!
  5. Tip: A digital thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking steaks. Shoot for 130 degrees for medium rare, 140 degrees for medium well, and 155 degrees for well done.
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Cabbage Strudel

2 Mar

CabbageStrudel From March 2014 Dickson Herald/Hickman County Times

There is a bag of dirt on my kitchen floor and little cups of seedlings in my window. My garden has been generously turned over and tilled by a neighbor. I have drawn out my plans for this year’s planting, hoping that this season will be better than last season. I have vowed to stay on top of the weeds and the squash bugs and construct a fence to keep the critters and the chickens out. It’s gardening time and I love it.
Now if someone would just tell the weather that it’s nearly time for Spring.
Everyone should grow something to eat during the Spring and Summer, I think. Whether it’s just a potted tomato plant on your front porch or a 1 acre garden in your back yard, growing your food is a really satisfying way to curtail your food budget and it can certainly make you appreciate the farmers that provide the entire country with food.
My first year with a big garden, I went a little crazy with the cabbage. I think I had about 30 heads in total. I had plans for a huge batch of sauerkraut that year and I started fermenting nearly 50 pounds of cabbage in our utility room. Long story short, it got a little too hot that Summer and the kraut ruined and it was a mess. These days, I still grow cabbage, but I leave the sauerkraut making to the professionals.
This is one of my very favorite cabbage recipes. Phyllo dough can be tricky to work with but the crispy, flaky layers that you get are worth all of the trouble.

Cabbage Strudel

Ingredients

  • 8 T (one stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 small head (2 pounds) cabbage shredded
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 T fresh dill, minced
  • ½ t. caraway seed
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • 14 sheets phyllo (fillo) dough
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet, set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt 2 T of butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Stir in the cabbage and carrots and a teaspoon of salt and cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the feta, herbs and spices. Set aside to cool.
  3. Melt the remaining butter. Open the phyllo package and cover with wax paper and a damp towel so that the phyllo dough doesn’t dry out. On a flat surface, place one sheet of dough and then brush with butter. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Repeat with 6 more sheets of dough.
  4. Spoon half of the cooled cabbage mixture onto the prepared dough leaving a 2 inch border all the way around. Fold in the short sides, brush the edges with butter then gently roll up the long side of the dough over the cabbage mixture. Transfer the roll to the prepared baking sheet, brush the top with butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaing phyllo and cabbage mixture to make a second roll.
  5. Bake the strudel for 25-35 minutes or until it is golden brown. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.
  6. Tip: Can’t find Phyllo dough? Puff Pastry works great or pie crust in a pinch.
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Chicken Stew

18 Feb

chicken stew

 

Hello, Winter…you are late.

We have been waiting for you since December. We would have been very appreciative of your wintery precipitation during the Christmas holiday but this February delivery of ice and snow is unwelcome. Take it back, and next time, deliver it in a timely fashion.

The icemaggedon that has hit our home leaves me home-bound with two eight year olds whose boredom is guaranteed to reach new heights. My own boredom is also reaching something of a fevered pitch and to top it all off, we all seem to have a head cold.

Lovely.

The only consolation is that we have a fridge full of food and plenty of time to cook a few delicious meals to keep us warm during this stretch of winter weather.

A nice chicken stew is a wonderful way to combat a case of the winter blahs. It’s a hearty and filling dish that will warm the cockles of your heart ( What is a “cockle” anyway?) and hopefully keep us satisfied until the first signs of Spring finally reach us.

Feel free to top this stew with a few hearty dumplings for an extra filling meal.

Chicken Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds, boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t. dried thyme
  • 1 t. dried rosemary
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven. Toss the chicken pieces in salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of flour. In two batches, cook the chicken pices until nicely browned on each side, about 8 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken to a bowl. Add the remaining oil and add the onion and celery to the pan and season with a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add in the garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for one minute. Add in the flour and cook for another minute. Whisk in the chicken broth making sure to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add in the carrots, reserved chicken and its collected juices, and bay leaves. Bring the stew to a boil, cover and place the pot in the oven for 50 minutes or until chicken is very tender. Remove from oven and take out the bay leaves and rosemary sprig. Stir in the frozen peas. Serve with crusty bread.
  3. Tip: This stew is a great make ahead meal. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
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Buffalo Salad with Shoestring Fried Onions

4 Jan

BuffaloSaladweb

I have to ease into the healthy eating of January. Even though the guilt and the elastic in my waistband is reminding me of all of the pie that I had for Christmas, I can’t just dive headfirst into a menu of green smoothies and power bars.

After all it is the middle of Winter.It’s cold. It’s dreary and all my stubborn body seems to want to crave is comfort food. Why, oh, why can’t I crave quinoa and lettuce?!

They say you should visualize your goal to reach it, but every time I begin to visualize my goal my craving for the day seems to get in the way. Today’s craving – hot wings.

I’m a sucker for a plate of hot wings. Lightly breaded, fried , tossed in some flaming wing sauce and paired up with cool ranch or blue cheese dressing with a stack of celery sticks. They are messy and sloppy and there is no way to eat hot wings and look attractive at the same time.

But this is January and there are parts jiggling on me that were never designed to move, therefore, my craving will have to come in some slightly healthy form. Nothing crazy, but a few tweeks here and there and I can make my hot wing craving one that won’t add another notch in my belt.

The dressing on this is made with nonfat yogurt and light mayo so you can pour on a healthy amount. And the chicken is breaded and baked instead of fried. The onions are fried, but I couldn’t help myself.

Thanks to Half Baked Harvest for the inspiration for this salad.

Buffalo Salad with Shoestring Fried Onions

Ingredients

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal, divided
  • ½ cup buffalo wing sauce ( I like Moore’s)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 cups chopped mixed lettuces ( such as romaine, spinach, etc.)
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella
  • Dressing:
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 3 T light mayo
  • 2 T buttermilk
  • 1 T fresh parsley
  • ½ t. dill weed
  • ½ t. onion powder
  • ½ t. garlic powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper
  • 1 t. lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the chicken breast into 4 strips. Submerge the chicken in the buttermilk, making sure to coat. In a shallow dish, mix together ¼ cup of the cornmeal and the panko bread crumbs and season with 1 t. salt and ¼ t. pepper. Coat each chicken strip in the bread crumb mixture and place them onto a greased baking sheet. Spray the strips liberally with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until chicken reaches 165 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in a shallow dish mix together the remaining cornmeal, flour and ½ t. salt and ¼ t. pepper. Toss the onion slices in the flour mixture, making sure to separate the rings as you toss. Heat about ½ an inch of vegetable oil in a skillet until the oil shimmers. Add the onions to the oil and fry until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processer and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  4. In two large bowls, divide the lettuce mix, top with tomatoes, avocado and mozzarella cheese. Place 2 chicken strips on top of lettuce bed and top each with fried onions. Serve with dressing on top!
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Southwest Rice Bowls

1 Jan

SWRiceBowl

Some would say that lunch is my life. Ok, maybe no one would say that, but sometimes I certainly think it. For the last year and a half I have been catering lunch to the fine folks of my small town and this has really forced me to explore the possibilities of the midday meal (it has also made me develop an unhealthy obsession with take-out containers that only someone who delivers lunch to people on a regular basis could understand). In this year and a half, I have made hundreds (maybe thousands) of salads, sandwiches and soups. I have tried my best to think outside the box by putting lunch in a box fit for adult appetites. Let me tell you, a creative lunch is harder than you think.
I realize that the majority of people in the world are perfectly happy eating the same lunch every day with no change in routine. It takes the guess work out of it; simplicity is the “happy place” of a busy life. But I love to try different things and a fresh and exciting lunch break is sometimes exactly the change of pace I need.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about “gluten-free”. Not because I particularly want to follow a gluten-free lifestyle, but because there are so many people out there that have to and I think that they are probably ready for something different to eat that isn’t just a salad or some strange medley of lunchmeat and hard-boiled eggs. This thinking led me to rice and what I could put on top of it. Let me tell you that there are a million possibilities and I am eager to explore each one. This one is a crazy-delicious start that I hope you give a try.

Southwest Rice Bowls

Ingredients

  • 2 limes
  • ¼-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 t. honey
  • ½ t. chili powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • ½ t. kosher salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen kernel corn
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
  • ½ c. light sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 cups hot, cooked brown rice
  • Shredded romaine lettuce, to serve
  • Diced avocado, to serve
  • Sliced jalapeno, to serve
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add the juice of both limes, ¼ cup olive oil, cilantro, honey, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and whisk until emulsified. Taste to see if more oil is needed. Add half of the vinaigrette to the shredded chicken and toss to combine. Heat the chicken for 1 minute on HIGH in the microwave, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the beans, corn, tomato and green chilies and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes until the corn is hot. Toss again and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, a squeeze of lime juice ( you should be able to get a little more from those used limes) and the chipotles. Stir well and set aside.
  4. To assemble: Spoon 1 cup of hot rice into a shallow bowl. Arrange ½ cup shredded romaine on top of the rice. Top with ½ cup of the black bean salad and top with ½ cup of shredded chicken. Add diced avocado and a couple of spoonfuls of the chipotle cream and enjoy!
  5. Tip: Substitute cooked quinoa for the brown rice for a little extra protein!
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Mini Chicken Gyros

30 Dec

MiniChixGyros

My first encounter with Greek food was in Chicago during a trip that seems like forever ago now. My friend, Renee, had been living there for a few years and I flew my pregnant self to Chicago for a “last-hoorah” kind of girls’ weekend. We went all over the place, but my favorite place was this little Greek restaurant around the corner from her apartment. We dodged angry drivers and suicidal bicyclists to cross the street and enjoy the most wonderful and authentic Greek food of my life. The place was covered in the patriotic blue and white of Greece. All the people in the kitchen were yelling at each other in what I assume was also Greek. The flatbreads were fresh, the smell of roasted lamb filled the air while the tang of copious amounts of yogurt wafted off of each diner’s plate. I, of course, ordered a gyro (pronounced year-o) and quickly dove into what would be a craving that I would have for the rest of my life.
A traditional gyro is a sandwich (actually, more of a wrap) that is filled with thinly sliced lamb “meatloaf” (for lack of a better word) that is cut from a twirling vertical spit, tzatziki sauce (which is made from yogurt and cucumber mostly) with tomato and red onion. The best word to describe it is unctuous. It is by far my favorite way to eat lamb and it is a refreshing meal in the middle of the day.
Of course procuring lamb at a reasonable price in the South is impossible. There aren’t a lot of lamb eaters south of the Mason-Dixon. And there aren’t a lot of Greek restaurants down here either, so fulfilling my craving for those traditional Greek flavors falls in my own lap.
These mini gyros are a great party appetizer, but could also easily be turned into a fantastic lunch. It is a refreshing bite to ring in the New Year!

Mini Chicken Gyros

Ingredients

    For the chicken:
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 t. dried oregano or 1 T fresh
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the Tzatziki sauce:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (Greek is best)
  • ½ a cucumber, peeled , seeded and grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
  • 2 t. red wine vinegar
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 T freshly minced parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cucumber Salad:
  • ½ cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ tomato, finely chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • To assemble
  • Pita or flatbread
  • Spinach leaves
  • Feta cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. In a medium bowl, mix together the Tzatziki sauce ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. In a medium bowl, mix together the cucumber salad ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. To assemble: Cut the pita or flatbread into wedges and place on a serving tray. Top each with a spinach leaf, then a spoonful of chicken, then the cucumber salad, tzatziki sauce and sprinkle with feta cheese.
  3. Serve and enjoy.
  4. Tip: The sauce, salad and chicken can all be made a couple days in advance and then assembled just before serving.
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Lemon Dill Shrimp Salad

7 Jul

Shrimp Roll 021

I feel like we are on the cusp of something here and the excitement (and certain amount of fear) that new opportunities bring is not exactly a situation that I am used to. The last time I felt that we were on the cusp of something, that something was bankruptcy. This something is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  While the uncertainty of the future is always daunting, I have to admit that if all goes as planned the lives of my entire family will be better. Busier…but better. What is that something? Well, I don’t want to jinx it but lets just say that there is a place not far from us that is the home of a country music icon and her family wants to partner up with our family and make a whole lot of wine. Very exciting indeed!

In other news, Summer is truckin’ right along here. The usual heat and humidity of the South has recently been replaced by an unseasonably cool Summer. While a day at the creek is never something that the kids will turn down, it’s hard to do much swimming when it’s 79 degrees, but the kids are giving it their best shot.

The garden is a bit of a bust this year. So far, I am successfully growing a lot of weeds and stink bugs. I have had quite a bit of success with the broccoli, potatoes, and strawberries this year. It’s a great year for cool weather crops, but the tomatoes are struggling with a mole, stink bugs and what I think is a late blight. Can’t do anything for critters and fungus. On the up side my four artichoke plants are doing really well and I will harvest at least one artichoke this year! Fingers crossed  I can overwinter those babies and be swimming in artichokes next year!

As far as cooking goes, I’ve been pretty lazy about it this Summer. A full schedule and a lack of motivation to get real creative has kept me from experimenting much. We did get a delivery from our Seafood Santa (a family friend who brings us fresh seafood from the Gulf) and we treated ourselves to a fantastic shrimp boil not long ago. The leftovers were turned into this refreshing shrimp salad with homemade mayo. I’m a fan of homemade mayo especially when you splurge on expensive meats like wild caught shrimp. It makes all the difference.

Lemon Dill Shrimp Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb shrimp, cooked
  • ½ cup chopped celery (I like the heart with the leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • ½ - 3/4 cup dill mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dill Mayonnaise
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill or 1 T dried
  • ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ t. kosher salt
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil

Instructions

  1. Chop shrimp into small chunks (about ½ an inch) and combine in a large bowl with the celery, onion and lemon zest. In a food processor or blender, pulse together the egg yolk, vinegar, dill, cayenne and salt. While the blender is running, slowly pour in the oil until the mayo is thick and creamy. Taste for seasoning. Fold ½ cup of the mayo into the shrimp salad and stir to combine. Add more mayo if desired. Add in the juice of the lemon and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a salad, crackers or a crusty loaf of bread and enjoy! Keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days.
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Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw

28 Apr

shrimp tacos 015

Right now, in my mind, I am on vacation. I am not actually on vacation, I am somewhere towards the beginning of what will eventually turn into the busiest, most stressful, and exhausting month of my life.

The month of May has now been dubbed Hell Month.

Do you ever have one of those months? Where you just stare at your calendar in disbelief and wonder how all of this got so out of control?

I can’t complain too much. I will be busy making money, which is good. I have goals for crying out loud! And we are about to hit one of those goals this week! The hubby and I have been doing Dave Ramsey since about August, and although we fell off the wagon in December (poor planning on our part) and couldn’t hop back on until last month ( tornadoes and thefts will do that to you), we have managed to (nearly) complete Baby Step #3 of the Total Money Makeover! That is 3 months of salary worth of savings for those of you not familiar. WooHoo! Go us!

But anyway, back to vacation.

So, this month (I mean May) I will be running the crap out of my new catering business with no less than 3 special events,  4 weekly deliveries, 1 dessert buffet, and a couple of new on-site events that I am pretty excited about. Besides the catering, the winery’s new wine club is due for it’s second shipment and I cannot believe the astounding success we have had so far! As of today, I will be putting together nearly 60 shipments for our loyal customers! With the winery, there is also of course our Summer Events that are starting up; movie night, happy hour, Blues & Wine music series and a county wide tour called Hickman County Arts & Ag Tour that is now in it’s second year. And as if that wasn’t enough, one of the newspapers I write for has asked me to do 4 extra articles on top of the weekly column that I already write for them and that is all due by May 10th.

Oh! And our 9th wedding anniversary is May 29th (Happy Anniversary babe!).

And then…vacation.

I have never longed for a condo in Hot Springs, Arkansas so badly in all of my life. Thanks to my mother-in-law for allowing us to tag along all of these years. I have pretty much decided that vacation is less about where you go and all about who is there to help you watch the kids. Vacation is also about quick and easy dinners and, if you are close to the water, seafood.

Shrimp is a favorite of mine and I have totally been on this shrimp/fish taco kick lately. I can’t seem to get enough. So I whipped up this simple recipe and imagined that I was sitting on a balcony, overlooking the water with a cocktail in one hand and a shrimp taco in the other.

June can’t get here soon enough.

shrimp tacos 022

Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 t. cumin
  • ½ lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 T butter
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • avocado for serving
  • Jalapeno slaw (recipe follows)
  • Jalapeno Slaw
  • ½ green or red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 2 T chopped green chilies
  • ½ t. dry dill
  • 1 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 t. grated onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 t. cumin
  • ½ t. cayenne
  • 1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine shrimp, cumin, juice of lemon, and salt and toss to combine. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted, add the shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the shrimp and pink and just cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl to keep warm. Wipe the skillet clean, and warm each tortilla in the skillet according to package directions.
  2. For slaw: In a large bowl, place the shredded cabbage and set aside. In a blender, blend together the remaining ingredients. Pour half of the dressing over the cabbage and mix well. Add more if needed or set aside the remaining dressing for extra sauce. Refrigerate for up to one week.
  3. To serve, place a spoonful of slaw into each tortilla and top with 3-4 shrimp and a slice of avocado.
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Yogurt Marinated Chicken

24 Mar

yogurtchicken

The first day of Spring has already passed but I can’t say that Mother Nature got the memo. It has been cold and wet and windy for what seems like forever. I’m sure that the rest of the country is with me when I say that I am more than ready for warm weather. I no longer want to see snow in the forecast. I live in the South for crying out loud! It’s supposed to be beautiful right now!

pear

The weather today is…drizzly. It’s not cold but it is damp and foggy. The only thing that breaks up the gray are the little white flowers that are blooming on whats left of my Bradford pears and the sea of purple clover underneath my clothesline. I will say that weather like this makes colors seem so much more vibrant. And the mist and fog that are hanging around today cover the mangled treeline and hide most of the damage that still haunts us every time we walk out the door. I am thankful for that.

cloverdip

So, even though the weather is still stuck in the middle of February, my food is looking forward to Spring. We have been eating a lot more green stuff and yogurt and a lighter in general menu. Chicken thighs are my favorite and the Greek yogurt marinade makes them even more tender and delicious. The kids nearly licked their plate after this meal and I am always happy to see that.

Yogurt Marinated Chicken

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken thighs, skin removed
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • ½ t. pepper

Instructions

  1. Place chicken thighs in a zip top bag, set aside. In a small bowl mix together remaining ingredients and then pour over chicken. Marinate in the fridge for two hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Shaking off excess marinade, place half of the chicken thighs into the pan and brown for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove chicken to a foil lined baking sheet. Continue with the remaining half of thighs. Bake the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Let rest a couple of minutes, then serve.
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Chinese Lettuce Cups

21 Feb

Lettuce Cups

My guilty pleasure is Asian cuisine. More specifically, Chinese takeout. Back when we lived in Atlanta, I kept the local Chinese restaurant very busy, especially after the twins were born. I ordered so often that the delivery guy began to comment on how big the kids were getting and would notice when I didn’t call in an order for a while. They even recognized my voice when I called. If we would have stayed there any longer, I would probably start getting Christmas cards from them.

Needless to say, there are not many Chinese takeout spots way out here in the country. This is a good thing since there have been plenty of nights when I would have happily called in my order for General Tso’s chicken, crab wontons, Pepper Steak, and some Sweet and Sour Chicken for the kids.

Besides being expensive, Chinese takeout isn’t very figure friendly (and I’ve got high hopes for a smaller swimsuit this year). So, as I roamed the aisles of the new discount grocery in town, I found nearly all of the makings of some very yummy lettuce cups. Healthy and tasty. It’s the best of both worlds.

Chinese Lettuce Cups

Ingredients

  • 16 lettuce leaves (use Bibb, Boston, or Iceburg)
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T minced pickled ginger
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 (8oz) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 t. dark Sesame oil
  • Sriracha (optional)

Instructions

  1. Rinse lettuce leaves and gently pat dry. Set aside to dry.
  2. In a medium skillet over high heat, add the oil and brown the beef until cooked through. Drain and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium, in the same pan cook the onion until just softened. Add in the garlic, hoisin, soy sauce, ginger, and vinegar. Stir to combine. Toss in the water chestnuts, sesame oil, green onions and beef and stir until coated in sauce. Cook until heated through.
  3. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and fill each one with the beef mixture. Top with Sriracha sauce if you want and eat like a burrito!
  4. Tip: You can find all of these items in you store's Asian aisle. Pickled ginger is the pink stuff you find next to your sushi. It comes in a jar and is very refreshing. Substitute 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger if you like.
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Southwest Stuffed Peppers and A Return to Normal

7 Feb

SWStuffedPeppers

Life should never be this crazy. Swirling towers of wind should never come out of the sky at 2:30 in the morning and leave you and your family huddling amongst the winter coats and wrapping paper. No one should ever have to walk outside to see the war-zone that is left in the wake of an F2 tornado. But it happens and it happened to us about a week ago and I am more thankful than you can ever imagine that we survived to tell the tale. Although I am a little tired of telling the tale, so this will be the last time for a long time.

yard2

We were so very lucky. We lost just about every tree in our yard, but not a single one fell on the house. Thank God. The roof is a little peeled up in spots but we are still dry. There is now a dead animal under my house. I could have done without that.

mick

That’s my brother who came with my Dad at 7AM to help us try to clean up. He’s 6’3″. That is the tree that didn’t hit my babies’ bedroom.It’s about 30 feet tall.

They got it worse on the other side of that hill though. My friend, Brandy, lost her house and because of her quick reactions none of her family was injured.

brandyshouse

Lots of other folks lost everything. Those who didn’t will be paying to fix the damage for quite a while. The community has been so supportive and caring. The outpouring of love has been amazing.

coblerv

There is a benefit at The Old Coble Store this Saturday if you are in the area and would like to help out. If you are not in the area and would still like to help out you can call First Farmers & Merchants Bank to donate at (931) 729-3522. I urge you to do so. This is a poor community with many families scraping by long before a  tornado came through.

So this week, for us, has been crazy and emotional and busy and we are slowly returning to some kind of normal. And normal for me is holing up in the kitchen and playing with my food. This pepper dish is one I have had rolling around in my head for a while. Its one of those comfort food dishes, perfect for a time like this.

Southwest Stuffed Peppers and A Return to Normal

Ingredients

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 T taco seasoning
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3 chipotle in adobo chiles, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican style cheese
  • Sour cream for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Halve each pepper lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane. Place cut side up in a baking dish.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and turkey and cook until turkey is browned and cooked through. Drain and return to the pan. Stir in the taco seasoning and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the corn, rice, chilies,cilantro, and half of the cheese.
  4. Fill each pepper half with the rice mixture and top each with the remaining cheese. Pour 1/2 inch of water into the bottom of the pan (to steam the peppers), cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the peppers are tender. Top each pepper with a dollop of sour cream ( and maybe some avocado if you have one around) and serve! Makes 4-6 servings.
  5. Tip: If you don't do spicy, replace the chipotle with mild green chilies. Yum!!
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A New Year,a Spicy Salad and a Pantry Challenge

1 Jan

Happy New Year!! 2013 has arrived despite all of the Mayan prophecies and many people are making all of the usual promises to themselves. I don’t know why we feel compelled to make all of these changes on the first day of the year. We could just as easily do it on a Tuesday in the middle of August. Nevertheless, here we are with grand intentions of bettering ourselves by this time next year and I am no different.

Top of the list is the always present “Lose X pounds”. I’m changing this up a little this year. It’s more like ” Get your butt off the couch and exercise 5 days a week. And quit eating like a teenager and drinking like a frat boy.” As my 31st birthday looms ever closer (3 weeks away. eeck!) I’m going to have to accept that I no longer have the metabolism of a perky waitress in a dive bar in Memphis. It’s my last hold-out and it’s days are numbered. I figure if I can stick to this, then the weight will gradually fall away.

My next, and probably easiest, resolution is to get back on the Dave Ramsey wagon. We started back in August and did really great up until December. December was (and always is) an expensive month. We didn’t lose any money but we didn’t save any either. So back on the budget we go and that’s okay with me.

This last one is something that I really didn’t think about until yesterday and it fits right into the budgeting goal. It’s a Pantry Challenge and I came across it over at Good Cheap Eats. Ya’ll…I need this. I have so many random things in my pantry that I really need to use. I don’t want to throw it away, but I am tired of moving them around. I have tons of dried beans, pasta, canned squash, relishes, and pickles. I also have lots of off-the-wall things; rice noodles, fish sauce, canned sardines, and Irish oatmeal (what makes it Irish anyway?). With the gardening season coming up, it’s time to make a little room. Oh! And we bought a side of beef, so I need to make room for that too.

So, this recipe is kind of a combo of all of these things. It’s very healthy and filling and the creamy dressing used quite a bit of ingredients in the fridge and spice cabinet. Hooray for me! The salad is enough for one, but the dressing makes enough for four. It’ll last 3-4 days in the fridge. It would also be great as a dip for grilled chicken or raw veggies.

Happy New Year!!

Check out this recipe on the Shine Supper Club too!

Southwest Salad with Spicy Cilantro Dressing

Ingredients

    Salad:
  • 2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup kernel corn
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 oz. sliced grilled chicken breast (I used a Southwest seasoning on mine)
  • Dressing:
  • 1 - 6oz. container 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • 2T mayo
  • 1/4 c fat free half and half
  • 1/2 t dry dill
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/2 t sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine the salad ingredients and top with the grilled chicken.
  2. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  3. Top the salad with 1/4 of the dressing. Serve and enjoy!
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Supper on a Loaf Redux

28 Nov

I think this was about the third recipe I ever put up on this blog, and at that point I lived in a poorly lit house with two year old twins and a pretty healthy dose of near-insanity. Although things have changed a lot in the last 4 years there are some things that will always be the same; I will always be near insanity and this will always be a delicious recipe.

Supper on a Loaf is a recipe that you can always count on to be a crowd pleaser. It’s my husband’s favorite thing I make and the kids love that they can pick up their dinner with their hands and eat and no one yells at them. I like to make double batches of this so that I can throw a bunch in the freezer to reheat on a busy day. Lord knows, there are plenty of crazy busy days ahead.

You can change this up anyway you want. I have done it several ways; with turkey meat, adding veggies, different cheeses, different breads, etc. Use what you’ve got and everything will turn out just fine.

Supper on a Loaf Redux

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2lbs ground round or chuck
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup crushed saltine crackers
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cup grated cheese ( I like Cheddar, but anything will do)
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 Baguette loaf

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cut bread lengthwise and dig out insides of the bread leaving about a ¼ inch around the edges. Then cut into serving size pieces (usually about 8). In a large bowl mix together the rest of ingredients until well combined. Portion out meat mixture and mound the meat on top of each bread boat. Bake on a baking sheet for 35 minutes or until done.
  3. To Freeze: Make sure you wrap each loaf individually in plastic wrap before placing in a zip top bag. Will freeze for up to 6 months.
  4. To Reheat: Place on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until hot all the way through.
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Turkey and Cake

14 Nov

The funniest thing happened the day before Thanksgiving 6 years ago. There I was, big as a barn, pulling a ham out of the oven. It had been a long day of cooking so I went to lay down for a nap and as soon as my head hit the pillow – POP!- my water broke and my two babies were on their way. Five hours and some good drugs later, my husband and I were blessed with two healthy children. Our families ate the Thanksgiving dinner without us (they did bring us leftovers), but we couldn’t have been more thankful for the Thanksgiving gift we received. Since then, we have experienced all of the ups and downs that having young twins brings, and every year around Thanksgiving, we celebrate the gift we have been given.

There fore, this year (like most years) we will have birthday cake with our turkey, but since I’m guessing that your family does not have a birthday on Thanksgiving, I’ll tell you about the turkey instead of the cake.

When it comes to cooking the bird, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1 – make sure you thaw your turkey properly. That means in the fridge ( which takes about 3 days) or in a sink full of cool (not hot!) water. Not sitting on top of the counter, unless you want to make your whole family sick.

2 – Keep your oven low and allow plenty of time for cooking. 325 degrees is a good temperature at which to cook, and the bigger the bird the longer it takes! Think about two turkeys if you are feeding a large crowd instead of one giant fowl.

3 – This is one is really important. Ignore the pop-up timer and use a thermometer instead. As soon as the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees, TAKE IT OUT OF THE OVEN!! Cover it in foil and let it rest. It will keep cooking to 170 and your turkey won’t be dry.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all !!!

Holiday Turkey

Ingredients

  • 12-14 pound turkey, thawed
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 sprigs each of rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1-2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 quart chicken stock

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and make sure you have moved your racks around so that the turkey will fit. Remove the neck and gizzards from the cavity of the turkey. Discard the giblets (or save for gravy) and place the neck in the bottom of a large roasting pan with a rack. Place the turkey on the rack, breast side up. Sprinkle the cavity with a little salt and pepper, then stuff with apple, orange, onion and lemon and 1 sprig of each herb.
  2. Remove the remaining herbs from the stems and mix with the butter and ½ t. each salt and pepper. Then, using your fingers, separate the skin from the breast meat forming a pocket between the meat and the skin. Spread half of the butter underneath breast skin doing your best to spread all the way to the front of the bird. Rub the rest of the butter on top of the skin, all over the bird. Season with the remaining salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the chicken stock in the bottom of the pan, place the turkey breast side down and roast for one hour. Flip the turkey breast side up, and continue to roast until the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees. Remove from the oven and let it rest, covered in foil at least 20 minutes. Use the pan dripping to make gravy. Carve and serve!
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Pork and White Bean Chili

6 Nov

It is hard, as a writer, to not get too…preachy. Or to ramble. Or be boring. Three things that are more difficult than you might  think. And for the most part, I believe that I succeed at being none of those things in my writing as long as…well, as long as I am not writing about anything too serious. I can write about my kids or my garden or my small town without too much stress. It’s easy to throw together a couple hundred words about whatever happens to be passing through my brain. But this post is different.

I must have written this post a half dozen times and erased every word because it was one, or all, of the things that I just mentioned. The reason I am having such a tough time is because that this is one post that I feel pretty strongly about. And I talk about this a lot with my friends and family ( and I’m sure they are sick of it). The thing that I feel pretty strongly about is simply – Food.

I feel like there is a huge disconnect in this nation between man and the food that they put in their mouths. The general population that surrounds me only thinks of food as a means to an end. In the words of my brother, food is just there to “make a turd” ( if you think that is shocking you should hear our other conversations). It bothers me that parents aren’t more concerned about making meals for their families that don’t have weird chemicals and hormones in them. It troubles me when I see a 300 pound woman walking through the grocery loading up with sodas, Little Debbies, and frozen pizzas all while yelling at her 4 year old who is bouncing off the ceiling while drinking a Diet Mountain Dew. I wonder where choices like that are going to take us as a nation.

Of course, I live way out in the country where the local Farmer’s Market can barely survive because many folks have their own garden, chickens and cows. Where a small population means the selection at any store is, at best, limited. And the people here are poor. The average income is well under $30k so that means a lot of people here are on food stamps. And I understand that processed and prepackaged foods are just plain cheap and whether or not there is any nutritional value there at least you aren’t going hungry.

But I have to wonder, how much of people eating the crap that huge corporations are pumping out is need, apathy, or just plain ‘ol ignorance. Is it not common sense to cook real food? I’m not talking “organic” this or “naturally grown” that ( although those are all good things) I’m talking being able to identify everything in your cart with one name; carrot, beans, flour, chicken, milk, etc. Instead of potato spuds, Hamburger Helper, Freschetta frozen pizza, Tyson chicken nuggets, etc.

I think people believe that cooking from scratch is hard or somehow so time consuming that you might as well pull out the cow’s head and the wood-fired oven. I recently taught a cooking class with some simple dishes; Butternut Squash soup, Foccacia bread, Braised beef and baked apples. I stood in front of the small gathering of “students” and showed them how to make good, simple, and real food. The reactions were mixed. Many were stunned that good cooking was so easy, a few were skeptical, “who makes there own bread?”. Hopefully though, those few students saw that cooking from scratch is easy and delicious.

And I hope that you also see that cooking wholesome homemade food is the best way to go. Homemade doesn’t have to be an “elite” food. Homemade can be what you make it. It can be cheap. It can be creative. It is certainly delicious.

A pork butt and a bag of beans can ( and probably will) feed you all week. I recommend starting this recipe with leftover smoked pork (made in the smoker/crock pot/oven)  and a bag of dry Northern beans. A little extra planning on the weekend can make your weeknights super easy.

Pork and White Bean Chili

Ingredients

    For Beans:
  • 3 cups dry white beans
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • For Soup:
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 cups chicken broth
  • 2- (4 oz.) cans diced green chilies
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 t. oregano
  • pinch of red pepper
  • 2 cups cooked shredded pork ( or chicken!)
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Toppings:
  • sour cream
  • cheddar
  • diced jalapeno
  • chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Rinse and sort beans. Place them in a large pot, cover with water and soak overnight ( or do the quick soak method: Cover with water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let stand for 2 hours covered). Drain the beans, and return to the large pot. Add one quart of chicken stock, bacon and quartered onion to the pot. Add water until the beans are covered by 2 inches. Heat the beans to boiling, then reduce and simmer for 1-2 hours or until the beans are tender. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Drain the beans and add to the pot with the broth, diced chilies, cumin, oregano, and red pepper. Bring to boiling and simmer for 20 minutes. Mash beans slightly to thicken soup. Add the pork and chopped cilantro. Check seasonings. Top with sour cream, cilantro, cheese, and jalapeno. Serve and enjoy!
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P.S. You can find this recipe on Shine! Yahoo’s Supper Club! I would love your vote!

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