Monday, July 26, 2010

Foreign Chicken

No, this isn't the turned down and muted version of my Chinese chicken blog. This is a recipe post. I love those.

You get a twofer today. I was blabbing about making Mexican chicken and darn it, it's time. It's this wondeful little dish made with RoTel, cheese, chips, and, of course, chicken. As soon as I get my dishes out of my sink and into the dishwasher, I'll start thawing the aforementioned chicken. This one brings back lots of good memories. Mom only made this one a couple of times. I will have to say, it isn't the prettiest dish I've ever made. But, you'll just have to face that when you get there. It is, however, quite the tasty dish. I'm pretty sure the recipe came off the back of a can of RoTel. You can find some pretty easy recipes on the back of soup cans and condiment bottles. If anyone knows where this really came from, I would love to give credit where credit is due.

The second dish is chicken spaghetti. My Aunt Kathy used to make this. My Aunt Kathy is who led me, for the most part, to be a great cook. I didn't just want to be good, I wanted to be great. This recipe brings back warm, fuzzy feelings and lots of family memories. I can remember the first time I had it was in the back "apartment" of my uncle's store. All the spice and flavor and yumminess. I make this as often as I can get away with. It makes quite a bit, so I usually end up freezing some for another time. I've thought about making it into popsicles. That would be too good. I'm not sure where this came from other than my aunt. Again, I would like to give proper credit if anyone knows.

Don't be alarmed by the number of ingredients. That is one of the first things that will make you turn the page of the cook book and overlook a really great find. Group your ingredients. Put all spices in one group, liquid ingredients, veggies, whatever. Slow and steady wins the race. That and you only need a little of this and a little of that. I don't think I change them that much that it would warrant changes to follow, but if I think of something, I'll let you know. Here we go.

Mexican Chicken

Boil and debone 1 chicken. Cool, cut into small pieces.

Mix together:

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can chicken broth
1 can RoTel

In a pan, layer chiken, 1 8oz. pkg Tostitos, 1 grated medium sized onion, and shredded cheddar cheese. Pour soup mixture over the top. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

There is nothing I change. You don't have to use a whole chicken. You could use pieces, a whole cut up chicken, or even turkey instead. That might be interesting. And save the stock for future cooking.

Chicken Spaghetti

1 large chicken
1 large white onion
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
mushrooms, chopped
4 sections garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
2 Tbls Worchestershire
2 Tbls hot sauce
3 C chicken broth

Boil chicken until tender. Cool and debone. Saute onions, pepper, celery, and garlic. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Add veggies and chicken. Simmer on lowest heat for 1 1/2 hours.

This is another one I don't change. Again, if you don't have a whole chicken, use whatvever pieces you like or a whole cut up chicken. It does have a little kick to it, and is best served warm with lots of garlic bread and napkins.

I'm not sure when or how I started doing recipe posts, but I really enjoy them. Some of these bring back memories of family gatherings and the shared love of food around a table. My Aunt Kathy was like McGyver, but in a culinary sense. She could go into a kitchen with half a clue and a salt shaker and come out with a meal fit for royalty. A little of this, a little of that, and don't forget that extra sprinkle of love. That's how I show my love, too. So if you have been to my house, I have probably fed you, and fed you way too much. That's my way. If I didn't feed you, well, you know what that means.

Have a great day.

And We're Off!

Not yet. But I'm working on it. We start school in a couple of weeks. The kids say they aren't very happy about it, but I can tell our easy, lazy, boring summer has started to take a toll on them. We are creatures of habit. We like having a schedule of events. We may not always follow that schedule, but we like to have it.

I sat down and put our lesson plan together. Thankfully, that went well. I always start with our together stuff. That means I'm making one plan for three subjects. We do all the same activities and worksheets. If there is something that I think the baby may have problems with, we try first. She is one smart cookie. Sometimes the activity is below the big girl's level, but that just means an easier day for her. I started planning like gang busters until I realized a couple of things. I don't have a dance schedule. I'm not sure when we're dancing, so that will help me decide which days are easier than others. I also don't have our co-op schedule yet. I'm not sure when we start and how many people are going to be in the co-op. Travel time cuts in to our schedule quite a bit. I erased alot (thank goodness for pencils) and started again. I even cut us some slack like I said I was going to. Science and history we'll do for three days instead if four.

I need to put the baby's portfolio together from last year. I have all the stuff, and it's mostly seperated. It's just the actual sit down and do it. I have the boy's and big girl's done, but I needed those for evaluations. The baby isn't ready for that. We don't even have to sign her up for homeschooling until this year. That is one of the last holdouts for being done with last year. Once that's done, it's a clean slate. Then there's the buying of new school supplies. That actually means more ink for the printers, copy paper, and new dry erase markers. There are some other things in there as well. The most important is a printer that is Windows 7 compatible. The big girl's math is on disc this year, and I loaded it on my lap top. I have no way to print it. I could put the stuff on the desk top, but that limits my computer accessibility. Yeah, that won't happen.

I have three piles of books in the middle of my living room floor. I cleared off my book shelf of old curriculum. I'm taking it down to trade in at a new teacher store in a neighboring town. They give you credit for your stuff to use in their store. I'm going some time this week to check them out. One thing keeping me from the teacher store now is the stuff I want that I can't afford, or don't want to spend the money on. Credit is a good thing. Maybe I can finally get some of those posters I've been wanting.

The second pile of books is the keep pile. I don't have room for them. When I cleaned off the book shelf, I also cleaned off what we don't read or don't need. I still don't have room. Arrgh! We love good books in this house. I saw the big girl pilfering things out of the "get rid of these" pile, which is pile number three. She put them back after she got busted hiding one. Twice. Sometimes, she reminds me so much of someone. Who does she remind me of? Oh, yeah, me. These books were gifted to us from another family cleaning off their shelves. Good grief, we know some reading people. The majority of them stay. The rest of them go to the park, then the book store. If I can get them there, and not leave them in a pile in my living room floor. I still need to get the clothes donated that I cleaned out 6 months ago.

The boy has lost two teeth this summer. So has the baby. The baby's is her two front teeth. I love that look. I'll get a picture to post. She said she's been pushing her adult tooth back up so she'll have the front ones gone at the same time. Mission accomplished. You have to love it when a plan comes together.

That's the update, folks. Right now, it just doesn't get any better.

Have a great day.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Beer and Seasoning

Yeah, not a title you would expect on this blog, but there it is. My last post was about being boring. When I say boring, I should also include lazy into that category. We really haven't done much this summer. Because of that, my poor crockpot thinks I have forgotten it. I haven't, that's for sure. I actually have a hunk of beef in it right now that smells so good. I also cut up some red potatoes and some yukon golds and have those roasting right now. My house smells divine. Only thing I need right now is a loaf of home made bread going to top off the wonderful smells.

I started thinking about my poor, abused crockpot. I like the fact that once you get a pattern down, you can mix and match and make a different meal with the same basic stuff. That was pretty much what I did today. I just followed a pattern. Most of the recipes will call for a liquid and some seasoning. Most of the time I just grab whatever my hand lands on in my spice rack and let it go. But I have started adapting some recipes and now keep some things on hand to make that part a little easier.

One of my favorite things to cook with is beer. Yes, I drink it, too, and it seems like I always have at least one. Today has been the day I could use a few more, but to cook with, one is enough. I like to use it when I cook smoked sausage. My childhood friend R used to do that. I was skeptical until I tried it. It is the only liquid I use now for sausage. Throw some shredded cabbage or sauerkraut in the pan with it, cover it, and let it go. You can use a bagged coleslaw mix just as easily. Just make sure you rinse the sauerkraut or it can be a little bitter. If you forget, toss in a couple of tablespoons of sugar to sweeten it up a little.

I have started using it as the liquid in my crock pot recipes. I don't use it all the time, but it can liven up a boring recipe, or one you use all the time. I usually make my own chicken stock, but I seem to be out for some reason. I have Mexican Chicken on my menu for next week, so I'll get more in the freezer when I boil the chicken. Since I am out, I needed a substitute. I could have used water, but really, what sort of pizzazz does that add? None. And wouldn't you know it, I actually had two beers in the fridge. One went in the crock pot and I know where the other one is going later.

The other thing I like to use and keep on hand is seasoning packets. I like the onion soup mixes, but I also like something just a little different. One recipe I have calls for a packet of dry Italian dressing mix. You know, the one that you mix with vinegar and olive oil? It is wonderful as a seasoning in recipes and it comes in a couple of different varieties. If I had had one, it would have been in the crock pot, too. Instead I used some Jamaican Jerk seasoning I have. I also like to keep taco and chili seasoning packets on hand. They are fantastic on the potatoes I mentioned earlier. You can also use dry ranch dressing as well. I like that you can also make dips with them. Have company? Use a packet of seasoning, a container of sour cream or plain yogurt, and you have instant dip. Use chips or veggies or both. You can also do carrots and fresh green beans instead of potatoes. All sorts of wonderful things and it is quick and simple and easy.

So now that I have talked your ear off about the wonders of these things, I'll let you know what I did for dinner tonight and, as always, the alternatives.

Crockpot Meat:

1 roast
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
1 bottle of beer

Salt and pepper beef to your liking. Place in crock pot. Add garlic, onions, and beer. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

You can use any cut of meat. You can use a whole or cut up chicken, or chicken pieces that you like. It is also good with turkey. I like to use a turkey breast or turkey thighs. Yummy, yummy. And you could always toss in any of the seasoning packets I mentioned above. I should say that store brands are just as good for this as the name brand, but go with what you like.

Roasted Potatoes

2 red or yukon gold potatoes for each person
olive oil
1 packet taco seasoning

Dice potatoes into bite size pieces. Place them into a large resealable bag. Add 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Empty packet into bag and seal. Toss to coat and place potatoes onto a baking sheet. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until tender.

I used Italian seasoning and some salt and pepper. I would suggest you not use salt if you are using a seasoning packet. There's enought of that in the packet. This is where you could use any of the packets I mentioned above or just any seasoning that you have that you like. Always go with what you like and what's easiest for you. I serve mine with a little sour cream on the side, but there's always that stand by- ketchup. If you use taco or chili seasoning, salsa would be delicious with the spuds.

Keeping it simple and easy doesn't have to mean drive thru or sandwiches. You could just as easy add chicken stock and a beer. Add black beans or lentils to the meat and have a one pot meal. Or even add your taco potatoes to your beer beef. My mouth is watering. It's time for dinner.

Have a great day.

Friday, July 2, 2010


That's what we've been. I like boring. Boring means nothing exciting going on. I am all good with that. We are doing some things in the near future.

The big girl is going to church camp in a couple of weeks. She is excited. Me, I'm anxious. I know she'll be fine. I know she'll have a great time. But that's my big girl and I will worry until she gets home. That's my job as a mama. I am following a friend out to the camp. I asked if she would hold my hand while I cried, and she said yes. Thanks, N, I need that. It's almost like when I sent her to kindergarten. I cried all day. The big girl started asking to go to camp last year. We told her when she could swim, she could go. By golly, she taught herself how to swim so how could we say no? We are very excited that she's got this opportunity.

The baby is about to start swimming lessons. She has taught herself how to doggie paddle and how to swim underwater a little. She has even become quite a floater. Before she would just kind of wander around or float on a noodle. I think that because she sees her brother and sister swimming and most of her friends swimming as well she has worked herself up to it. She was content before to just watch. I'm glad she's done so well by herself, but it's time for her to get some formal training. The boy and the big girl were older when they started swimming and had a better idea of the process. The baby was not happy about it at first, but seems to be excited about it now. Finally.

The boy had two play dates in two days. The big girl was getting a little jealous, but if you think about it, she's about to have a week long play date. Anyway, the boy loved it. He even got to show one friend some things about Super Mario on the Wii. He's funny, though. He doesn't think his mama's skills are as good as his. That's because he just doesn't know. He got to spend time with a friend that is out of town quite a bit. That was fun for him.

Hubby has been working. And working. And working. This is his busy season. We are OK with the hours because it pays the bills. We even managed to pay off another credit card. We absolutely love that part. Other than that, he's good. He does have a mess out in the backyard to clean up, and boy do we need to mow. He's also going to build us a compost bin. Now to find the time to take care of that.

I am thinking I want to start school sometime in August. I'm thinking the beginning, but we'll see. I've been cleaning off the bookshelf of all the curriculum that we aren't going to use or I don't need anymore. I loaned out some today, mostly science stuff. I just need a clean shelf somewhere. I need to be organized with some part of my life. If it happens to be the book shelf, more power to it. I think I just need to get my hands all over our new curriculum. Any excuse to handle it is a good one.

I told you we were boring. There just isn't a lot happening this summer. We haven't even done any VBS this year. We skipped helping with the float for the 4th of July parade for the first time in three years. We are just taking it as easy as we can. And being boring is as easy as it gets.

Have a great day.