Friday, May 30, 2008

easy dinner night

Tonight I opted for something really simple because it's Friday and I'm lazy.

I adapted a recipe I saw on Rachael Ray for Asian Cucumber Cups. They were absolutely wonderful!

Asian Cucumber Cups

2 C shredded chicken (i made mine from the chicken left over from a batch of stock)
3/4 C cabbage
2 green onions
3 T honey
4 T soy sauce
2 t sesame oil
2 t chili powder
1/2 chow mein noodles
4 large cucumbers cut in to chunks and hollowed out with a melon baller

mix all ingredients except cucumbers together in a bowl. Fill cucumbers with salad mix and enjoy!

For an added bonus, I saved the inners of the cucumbers and tossed them with some rice wine vinegar and soy sauce and chilled. This is a nice Asian twist on the vinegar cuke recipe.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I hate summer vacation

I need routine. I need it so I can just keep up with all the things I have to do. It takes me a long time just to develop a routine that works and even longer for me to really get "in" to it.

Summer vacation throws it all out of whack. I now have five children and a husband mucking up my plans every day. Not only are they disrupting my routine, they are creating larger and more frequent messes and chaos. And they fight. And they won't help like they need to.

Needless to say, I'm not coping well. My house is falling apart. I can't seem to keep it clean and organized. As a result, mama ain't happy. mama is having trouble focusing. mama is going to blow a gasket.'s 1030 a.m. and *daddy* is sleeping still because he was up past 2 a.m. playing computer games.

NOT. A. Happy. Camper.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chicken Stock and a casserole

We've recently added a new recipe to our rotation. and it's a real budget stretcher.

It may seem like a lot of effort, but it's really not, and you get a lot of bang for your buck.

First, pull out your crockpot.

4-6 bone-in skin on chicken thighs (I get mine at Costco for 99 cents a pound)
3 carrots cut in chunks
3 onions cut in large chunks
3 stalks of celery chopped, including leaves
2-3 over ripe tomoatoes
6 cloves garlic
1T peppercorns
salt to taste

Dump all of this in your crockpot and cover it all with water. Let it simmer for about 10 hours.

Once it smells really good, strain out the veggies and chicken and save all the lovely [b]CHICKEN STOCK[/b] you just made! In my 7 qt crockpot, I can get about 10 C of broth. I freeze them in 2 C increments.

This poached chicken is very very tender and will just fall off the bones. You can substitute this for any recipe that calls for shredded cooked chicken. You can also freeze it.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

2 C shredded cooked chicken
2 cans rotel tomatoes (do NOT use del monte as it doesn't have enough flavor)
1-2 limes
1 medium onion chopped
1 bag of tortilla chips crushed (or you do like I do and put all the broken chips from a couple bags worth in a ziploc bag and save them)
2C chicken stock
3 C sharp cheddar
sour cream

Place shredded chicken in a bowl. Juice the limes over it and lightly salt. Add in the chopped onion and rotel tomatoes with their liquids. Stir together. Mix in the tortilla chips.

Put the mixture in a 13x9x2 baking dish. Pour the chicken stock evenly over the chicken mix. Top with the cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted.

Serve with a sour cream.

Depending on your tastes, you may decide this needs salt. I couldn't tell while I making it that it needed salt. It wasn't until it all came together so...salt at the end. Kosher works best.

I can also see adding a can of drained and rinsed black beans to this. Super yummy!

The recipe as it is, serves 6-8 people. It fed my family with LEFTOVERS and there are 7 of us eating.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Veggie Stock

As per Laura's request, here's how I did my veggie stock:

4 large over ripe tomatoes cut in half
3 stalks of celery, chopped including leaves
2 large onions quartered
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3 large carrots, cut in to chunks
1 T peppercorns

Place all of these in large crock pot. Cover with water. Simmer overnight. salt to taste.

It really is *that* easy to make your own stock. I got a tip from someone else to save all your veggie peelings and chunks you cut off throughout the week and use that as the veggie base for the stock. This would give a large variety of flavors as it would change each time.

I was actually out of carrots when I made stock the other day, so I added some asparagus.

This is also my basic recipe when making chicken stock, as well, except I add in several chicken thighs. Cooking the chicken this way poaches and makes it super tender. It's a fabulous way to get shredded cooked chicken for a dish and have plenty of stock. It really kills two birds with one stone.

Monday, May 19, 2008

From the kitchen

Today marks the sort-of-first-day-of-summer-vacation. The boys' teachers stopped taking attendance so there's no point in sending them when all they will do is watch movies. They can do that from home and I don't have to get out of bed or argue with them about getting ready for school.

Leelee has some cool stuff going on at school this week, including a field trip on Wednesday and her honors assembly Friday. But she woke up this morning with one eye swollen. D thought it was pink eye, but a nice dose of benedryl quickly proved she's having an allergic reaction to something. No idea what.

Now, I have all five children home with me and for one of them, the drugs are starting to wear off! My plans of cooking and sewing today are completely shot.

I did manage to make good use of some of the tomatoes. I made a very lovely vegetable stock. I was out of carrots so added some very pathetic looking asparagus instead. It simmered in the crockpot for about 14 hours and turned out quite flavorful.

Leelee helped me divide up the stock in to 2 C freezer bags. I explained to her that most moms don't make homemade stock. She is always quite surprised that most moms don't do the things we do at home, such as from scratch cooking and sewing.

A big surprise to me is D thought he was going to be eating whatever was in the crockpot for lunch. He didn't know what it was but said it smelled very good. I think he was a bit disappointed to find out he was getting egg salad LOL

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What was I thinking?

I don't know what possessed me. Maybe it was the great spirit of the Happy Homemaker, but I bought 5 lbs of soup tomatoes at the farmer's market for $3 today. It seemed like a really good idea/deal at the time.

I know I can use it to make my stocks, but I won't be making *that* much stock over the next week! And, I made 10 cups of chicken stock last week.

Now what?

I'm open to any and all suggestions!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Two biggies this week

First off, I hit my weight loss goal! After nearly 10 months, I've lost 36 lbs. It's a great feeling and I'm going to relish in my success a bit before I try for five more pounds. I'm trying to keep the goals realistic.

Secondly, my mother's day gift is what kept me away for so long. Hubby refinished the hardwood floors! They look FABULOUS. Friends came over today and the first thing one said was "Did you get new floors?"

Third, having company for dinner and serving a delish tortilla casserole. Will post the recipe with my modifications later.

Fourth. School is out very soon so my time will be much shorter as I have the children to tend to.

Fifth, back logged on sewing again. Oh well. Have to make a living somehow!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Teaching moments

One of the best things about being a mom is teaching skills to my children. It is so cool to see them grow and develop personalities and interests and it's even better when those interests mirror yours and want to learn from you.

My nine year old loves to cook. I've mentioned before she's in love with Alton Brown and will watch any program he's on. She watches Food network for fun and will choose various cooking shows over cartoons. Strange kid. She also loves watching Top Chef. Now that Project Runway is done, it's our weekly date. Every night at dinner, she comes running in and asks "Mommy, can I be your sous chef tonight?" It makes mama very proud. Tonight, there was actually fighting because my 6 year old wanted to move up from dishwasher to sous chef.

After dinner, we spent the evening sewing together. She wanted to make her teacher a gift for teacher appreciation week. It would have been much easier to buy something for Ms. S, but I couldn't let the opportunity pass to spend this time with Leelee. For this project, she got to use the serger! The apron was very basic and included very few things to trip her up. She did an excellent job!

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Stash

I have a huge amount of fabric. Drawers full. It's falling out of boxes. It's an addiction. I know it. DH knows it.

Today, I took a big step...I cut out a shirt for myself out of fabric that I've been carting around for roughly 10 years. The ridiculous part of it, is it's plain white fabric. It could have been used for just about anything. I had SIX yards. Now I'm down to 4.5 yards.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Liar Liar pants on fire!

I said I'd get to grocery ideas this week. I'm probably not. I need to do other things like clean. I didn't follow my own advice this week and went to the store twice. I had three things on my list each time and each time spent $30. The stores do that to you.

So here's the big tip for today:

Go with a list and STICK TO THE LIST!