Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I totally love homemade chicken salad. There are so many varieties and spices you can add that alter the taste and personalize your dish. It's so easy to make. I tend to like chunky chicken salad that has a good bite to it. I also like a bit of sweetness. My local market has a great salad bar and they offer a wide variety of ready made salads. Their white meat chicken salad is incredible, so I decided to take a gander at recreating it at home and by golly I think I've got it.

Chicken Salad
(enough for 4 generous sandwiches)

2 chicken breasts, boiled in water until cooked through, cooled, and shredded
1/3 cup sweet relish
3/4 cup of light mayonnaise
2 Tbl yellow mustard
2 Tbl chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onion
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbl yellow mustard
1 Tbl sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and you have a delicious chicken salad. My family likes it on a toasted sesame seed bun, served alongside carrots and ranch dip. Makes a perfect lunch.

15 Beans and Rice with Corn Muffins

Okay, so I grew up in the south and to a relatively middle class family. My mom stayed at home, my dad worked very hard. We had a modest way of life and there were 3 children to feed. Not being "well-off", I'm sure my mom was conscious of the grocery bill. I remember sometimes just having a pot of beans on the stove and cornbread in the oven.

With all of the freshly fallen snow and my discipline for affordable, healthy, delicious meals, I thought what could be more cost effective and pleasing to everyone's palate than 15 beans and rice on a cold winter's day?

So, I started with a bag of 15 beans and allowed them to soak overnight in 2 quarts of water (or 8 cups).
In the morning I drained them and put them in the crock pot with about 4 cups of water for more flavor I'd recommend chicken stock.

I used several chunks of spiral ham (I had frozen leftovers from New Year's) and added it to flavor the beans. I also added chopped garlic, chopped onions, salt, pepper, 2 bay leaves, and you can add whatever spices your family likes most. You can't really screw it up.

With fragrant jasmine rice cooked to perfection in the rice cooker and the slow cooked goodness of ham and beans, it's a dinner sure to please.

I served them along with our favorite cornbread muffins, butter, and Organic Wildflower Honey.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day: Loaded Baked Potato Soup

We have been waiting for a beautiful snow day in Virginia. We'll get a dusting now and again, but nothing like we experienced this particular weekend. Norfolk hasn't seen this much snow in many years. I woke up early and peered out the windows to the powder glistening below. A few paw prints scattered here and there, showed the depth of the beautiful precipitation. The bushes in the courtyard of our vintage building, shivered with layers and layers of snow.

After a pancake breakfast, we bundled up and ventured out to the winter wonderland. The squeals from my little girls made me feel like a child again. Snow and sleet pelted against the warm shell of our coats, and our snow covered gloves and mittens didn't stop the girls from having a snowball fight or from making miraculous little snow angels. Our tree lined street was covered with a solid white blanket.

I had thought early in the morning to put out several bowls to collect some fresh snow so I could treat the girls to some homemade snow ice cream. By the way, it was delicious and turned out great!

As we thawed out, I thought about the rich loaded baked potato soup that was simmering away in my crock pot. The aroma lingered in the air and wafted through the house. It was the perfect end to a beautiful snow day!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

1 bag frozen diced hash brown potatoes
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped onions
4 Tbl butter
2 cups less sodium chicken stock
8 ounces light sour cream
2 cups shredded cheese (your preference; I used colby-jack)
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
salt and pepper to taste
5 slices crispy cooked bacon

Mix all the ingredients (except for the bacon) in your slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Just before your soup is done, cook your bacon and chop into small pieces. Add to your soup and voila! Dinner is served! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekend Brunch: Alamo Breakfast Casserole

A chilly 45 degrees, sunny skies and everyone is toasty warm in bed. It's the perfect morning to make my egg casserole. Whether you're feeding out-of-towners or the family, this is a really easy and filling breakfast. It's easy to do this one ahead of time also, so you can just pop it in the oven when you're ready to get it started.

Alamo Breakfast Casserole

10 eggs
1 Tbl. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 stick melted butter
1 pint (16 oz) cottage cheese
1 pound shredded monterey jack cheese
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilis

Heat oven to 350
whisk together eggs, flour, baking powder, and butter.
Stir in cheese and chilis.

Pour into lightly greased baking pan. (13x9 dish)

Cover and bake until set, cheese is melted & just beginning to brown. (About 35 minutes)
Serve warm with whole wheat toast and fruit.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Beef and French Onion Soup

The ground was covered in mud puddles, the sky was a dark charcoal gray. Looming over the city was a dull rain and the cold wind could cut you in half. All I wanted was to be at home in my coziest pajamas with a bowl of something warm and comforting.

He has been wanting beef almost everyday for some strange reason. It's not typical and since we are not huge consumers of the meat I had to find some recipes that would fit the bill.

The smells lingering from the kitchen were divine. At last I had come up with something that would suit all of our needs. Beef and French Onion Soup! As we all sat around the table laughing over the days events, this soup certainly warmed the soul! Enjoy!

7 small onions, cut in half and thinly sliced (7 cups)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
2 dried bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
3 cans (10 1/2 ounces each) condensed beef consommé
1 AND 1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
8 slices (1/2 inch thick) French bread, toasted
2 cups shredded mozzarella, provolone, or swiss cheese

Toss onions, butter and sugar in slow cooker. Top with bay leaves and beef.

Cover and cook on Low heat setting 8 hours or until onions are brown.

stir in beef consommé, apple juice and thyme. Increase heat setting to High. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until hot. Remove bay leaves.

To serve, spoon into ovenproof soup bowls and top each serving with slice of toast and 1/4 cup cheese.

We had some loaves of sourdough bread from our recent trip to San Francisco stored in the freezer. I topped our yummy soup with toasted slices!

Alongside this yummy dish, I served grilled sandwiches. My vegetarian daughter had to have a colby/jack grilled cheese. For him, a turkey and meunster.