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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 The usual heat and humidity of the South has recently been replaced by an unseasonably cool Summer.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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Salmon & Potato Chowder

11 Oct

Is it crazy to be wishing for a really cold winter? I feel like we got so jipped on last year’s unseasonably warm weather and this year I am craving cold followed by snow and joined by heaping bowls of soup. The last few mornings I have secretly enjoyed the sting of cold on my un-socked feet as I roll out of bed every morning. My morning cup of Joe ( or Johann – I love that commercial) is made even better when it warms my belly and my fingertips.

Maybe I just love the feeling of being warm and comforted. Not that that doesn’t happen in the Summer  but there is something about Fall and Winter that makes you want to snuggle close to your loved ones. And I do love to snuggle especially with my little monkeys.

Since the kids have started school, I have really started to notice just how big they are. Their little personalities are blossoming and their little faces are transforming into the  features that they will carry for the rest of their lives. If I look close enough, I can see the beautiful young woman my daughter will be and the handsome and fun-loving man my son will become. They will be tall and slender and full of life. They both will still have that little crinkle at the corner of their eyes when they smile and freckles will still grace their cute little noses. I’m sad for me and excited for them all at the same time. I guess that is the way it works for mothers.

Mothers also like to try to make everyone happy. So, when I came across this recipe in the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine cookbook, I thought it would be an easy sell to all parties concerned in our house. The result was simple and delicious and I will make it again even though my daughter only ate the potato soup and my son picked out all of the fish to eat. My husband and I thought it was perfect, so that must count for something.

P.S. Thanks again to April’s Attic for letting me borrow dishes. You guys are awesome.

P.P.S. If you are in the Dickson, TN area you can now read me in The Dickson Herald!

P.P.P.S. If you anywhere close to the middle Tennessee area you can come to a free cooking class that I will be putting on at Grinder’s Switch Winery on Oct 21st! Call to sign up!

Salmon & Potato Chowder ( adapted from Gourmet Today)

Ingredients

  • 5 slices Bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 salmon fillets, skinned ( about a pound)
  • 2 t. dried dill
  • 1 T butter

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy saucepan, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp and then drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 T of fat in the pan and saute onions, celery and potatoes until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add milk to the pan, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until potatoes are very tender, another 10 minutes. Using a stick blender or a food processor, blend the soup until it is creamy and only a few small chunks of potatoes remain. Stir in salmon, dill and butter and continue to simmer until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes.Serve in bowls topped with bacon ( and maybe a little cheddar cheese)
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Old Fashioned Pot Roast

28 Sep

It seems like folks these days are so interested in quick and easy that they forget how delicious slow and steady can be. Don’t get me wrong. Quick and easy plays a significant roll in my nightly dinner line up. We often have less than an hour to cook, eat, and get ready to go to some extracurricular activity after the kids get off the bus. Often we all leave the house early in the morning and don’t even get home until after dark. So, I get it. We are all busy.

But some days  are not as busy as others. Sometimes we find ourselves actually home during the day. These days are usually spent catching up on laundry or yard work and having a little family time together. I love these days. On those days, I may never get out of my sweatpants or put on a bra. I can plan a dinner that takes hours to cook knowing that the result will be absolutely phenomenal. I wish I had more of those days. On those beautiful, rare, slow days I love to make pot roast.

I have pretty strong feelings about pot roast. Pot roast, in my opinion, should never be made in a crock pot. It should only be made in a large, heavy, dutch oven either on stovetop or in the oven. Not in a crock pot where the very life of something that should be delicious is sucked out and evaporated into the ether. I am very fortunate to have a good friend, Maria, who is of the same mind set and recently bestowed upon me her very large cast iron roaster/camping grill. This thing weighs a ton and I have to store it in the utility room because it won’t fit in my 1950′s cabinets. I can’t think of a better pan to make pot roast in ( or braise a duck or turkey). If you don’t have the world’s largest and heaviest pot, use whatever you have that is close. You don’t want the liquid to evaporate out of this dish. You want all of that juicy goodness to stay in.

Old Fashioned Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 lbs beef chuck roast
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 8-10 new potatoes
  • 1 - 15oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 t. each thyme and rosemary
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large dutch oven ( preferably cast iron), heat oil over high heat. Sprinkle chuck roast with 1/4 t. salt and pinch of pepper and then sear on both sides in the hot oil. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add onion, carrot and celery to the pan and cook over medium high heat until softened and slightly browned. add garlic and potatoes and stir for 30 seconds. Add the roast and any juices back to the pan. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to boiling. Cover with a heavy tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Bake, turning once halfway through, until roast is tender, about 3 hours.
  4. When the roast is done transfer the meat and veggies to a large platter and keep warm. Discard the bay leaf and skim off fat. Heat liquid over medium heat until slightly thickened then pour over meat and veggies to serve.
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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan Sage Croutons

18 Sep

Dishes provided by April's Attic - http://howdypodnar.com/aprilsattic/index.htm

It seems that Fall is the only season to arrive on time this year. It’s cooler ( finally!!) and kinda rainy and the leaves are just starting to change. I even put my kid in a long sleeve t-shirt this morning. I am so so so excited. The butternut squash that popped up in my garden ( thanks to my compost pile) gave me over a dozen squashes. So this soup is nearly free for me!! And it’s delicious. And the kids love it too!

Speaking of kids, we have been going through an attitude adjustment with my son here lately. The poor kid has been having a rough time with acting appropriately at school recently and he has now been introduced to the world of being grounded. Two weeks of punishment for this kid has ( so far) been pretty good for his behavior. There have been a few bumps in the road, but it seems my son has re-discovered the awesomeness of playing outside, playing with actual toys, and looking out the window when we are driving home. I love it. For the first time, too, he loves helping. He has even been helping in the kitchen which is something he has never really been too interested in. I’ll turn this awesome kid into a future great husband yet.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan Sage Croutons

Ingredients

  • Serves 4
  • 2 large Butternut Squash ( about 4 lbs)
  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 T fresh chopped sage
  • 5 c low sodium chicken broth
  • For Croutons:
  • 2 cups cubed French bread
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2T butter, melted
  • 1T chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ c. grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out and discard the seeds ( or keep them and plant them). Place them cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 T of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a remaining oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Saute onion, carrot, celery and sage in oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Scoop out the flesh of the squash, discarding the skin. Add the squash and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches and then return to the pot to keep warm.
  3. For the croutons, combine all ingredients in a bowl well. Heat a dry skillet over medium high heat and cook croutons until brown and toasted, stirring often.
  4. Ladle soup into bowls and top with croutons. Serve and enjoy!
  5. Tip: If you are short on time, peel and cube the squash and cook directly in the broth instead of roasting.
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Braised Country Style Ribs

16 Sep

The change in seasons is almost here. I can feel it in the air, in the breeze…in my sinuses. Either way, I am excited. The return of my comfy sweaters, socks, and comfort food is just around the corner.  I’ve been too hot for long enough. I am ready for some cooler weather.

Cool weather food is perfect eating-on-a-budget fare since low and slow cooking times can turn cheap cuts of meat into delicious mouth-watering delicacies. Country-style ribs is one of my favorite cuts of pork and when I have the time to cook them right, I always put them in my buggy. Country style ribs are pretty fatty, so diet friendly they are not. But if you are craving something savory and delicious, this is the dish for you. If you can squeeze your own OJ, do it! And throw in that orange peel too. I never seem to have oranges in our house though.

If you wanted to crock pot this meal, try it on low for about 8-10 hours.

 

Braised Country Style Ribs

Ingredients

  • Orange and Soy Braised Country Style Ribs
  • Serves 4
  • 4 pounds country style ribs
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 ½ c. orange juice
  • ½ c. soy sauce
  • 3 T sugar
  • 2 T minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 chopped scallions
  • ½ t. pepper

Instructions

  1. Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle the ribs with the salt and set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven or roasting pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the ribs in one layer, making sure to turn them in the sauce to coat. Cover with a heavy lid or aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours or until very tender.
  3. Remove the ribs from the sauce and keep warm in a 200 degree oven. Over medium high heat, bring the cooking sauce to a boil, uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and coat each rib with the glaze. Serve with steamed rice and broccoli!
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Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers with Red Onion Marmalade

21 May

Memorial Day weekend for many is the rope drop for Summer. I don’t even have to look at the calendar to know when Memorial day weekend is, I can tell it’s close by the throngs of cars parked on the side of the road by the creek just above me. Come Memorial Day, screams of terror followed by a loud splash fill my yard as teenager after teenager jump off J.H. Barber bridge. And during the Summer, I am often reminded of an eternal question asked by parents everywhere, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” The answer to this question is obviously “Yes” for many.

This weekend is also a time to honor our military, past and present. The urge to serve our country runs pretty thick in our family with just about every male for as long as I can remember serving at least a little time in one branch or another. I can’t imagine what our country would be like without the service of our brave men and women in uniform and I am thankful for the sacrifices that they have made for us. If it weren’t for them, the freedom to choose how we live would be taken from us and that would be a horrible fate. Worse than jumping off the J.H. Barber bridge.

Hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers with Red Onion Marmalade

Ingredients

    marmalade:
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • ½ t. salt
  • burgers:
  • 1 ½ lbs ground chuck
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ t. garlic powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • ½ c. crumbled blue cheese
  • to serve:
  • 4 sesame seed buns
  • lettuce
  • mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Prepare your grill.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter for the marmalade. Add the onions to the pan and stir to coat with the butter. Cook the onions for 15-20 minutes or until they are soft and tender. Add the sugar, vinegar, and salt to the onions and stir to combine. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the ground chuck, Worcestershire and garlic powder. Shape into 4 large balls. Press a indent into the center of each ball and fill with blue cheese crumbles. Shape into a patty around the cheese so that it is completely enclosed and patty is about ½ inch thick. Grill burgers over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Spread a thin layer of mayo on each bun, top with lettuce, burger and red onion marmalade. Serve and enjoy!
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Tex Mex Tortilla Salad

23 Apr

It seems I have gone AWOL from this poor little blog lately. These things happen. For the last month, we have been hopping from one activity to another. Dance and T-Ball on Monday, Taekwondo on Tuesday and Thursday, T-Ball again on Friday. Of course there is also work at the winery, writing for the newspaper, and lets not forget laundry. The never ending laundry. The garden is also becoming more and more productive, there fore requiring more of my attention.

I will not complain about the garden. It is my happy little oasis in the corner of our yard. So far, we have gotten several delicious strawberries out of our patch as well as radishes, spinach and lettuce. And I am pretty excited to say that I will have fresh Summer squash a good month ahead of everyone else.

The point of all this rambling is to say that I have become well acquainted with the uber-quick dinner.  More than once dinner has been a grilled cheese sandwich and a bunch of grapes or some much unhealthier version of that. Lucky for me, BBQ season has started and thanks to my husband, our fridge is well stocked with lots of smoked and pulled meat. While BBQ sandwiches are always delicious, sometimes I need something with a vegetable on it ( call me crazy!). So, because I never throw away my food magazines I adapted a Food&Wine recipe to fit what I had in the fridge. I made this with chopped brisket but it will also work well with chicken, pork or even some grilled white fish.

Tex Mex Tortilla Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 taco shells ( the crispy ones)
  • 5 ½ T cooking oil ( any kind will do)
  • 2-15oz – cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup tomato salsa
  • ¾ t. salt
  • 1 ½ T wine vinegar ( red or white)
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ t. black pepper
  • ¼ t. chili powder
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 head lettuce ( romaine or iceburg)
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cooked kernel corn
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • ¼ pound of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound warm shredded meat ( brisket, pork or chicken)
  • 1/3 cup black olives

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350. Place the taco shells on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. Break each one in half and set aside.
  2. In a sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the beans, salsa, and a ¼ t. of salt to the pan. Using a potato masher, stir and mash the beans for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, remaining salt, mustard, pepper, and chili powder. Add in the remaining oil and whisk until the dressing looks creamy. Stir in the cilantro.
  4. Spread a spoonful of bean mixture on each taco shell half and place 4 on each plate. Top with layers of lettuce, tomatoes, onion, corn, meat, cheese, olives, and avocado. Drizzle each salad with dressing and serve!
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