Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snowed in with really awesome food!

Chicken, Vegetable, and Rice Casserole

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup onions, diced
2 cups carrots, diced
1 cup peas
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 teaspoon parsley, dried
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups cooked chicken
2 cups cooked rice
1 10.5 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 10.5 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese, cheddar or mozzarella
1 cup bread crumbs or 2-3 slices food processed into crumbs

Sauté onions and carrots in butter and olive oil for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and spices; cook an additional 5 minutes. Add soups and milk. Cook until heated through. Add peas, rice, cheese and chicken and cook until cheese melts.  Pour into a 9 x 12 casserole and top with bread crumbs. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spring Dreams

Well, we got another nine inches of snow today, and it has made me long for spring. I have shoveled more snow than I thought I could. If only I could see a few daffodils peek out soon, it would make me very happy. So, this is Happy early Spring and St. Patrick's Day. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, George Washington

February 22nd is George Washington's Birthday, and even though we already had President's Day, I hate to give short shrift to the first president of the United States. I used vintage cobalt, vintage ivory, scarlet, P-86 cobalt, and eggshell nautilus. The decaled juice pitcher is an HLCCA member collectible.

Post Snow-shoveling meal!

I shoveled snow!  I know, I can't believe it either. Fortunately, I had three neighborhood kids helping. I totally believe in child labor, and before you have a coronary, I did pay them.
After shoveling all that snow, I needed a good, hot meal!

This was dinner: Baked chicken tenders, cream-style corn and my own pasta-veggie creation.

Broccoli Garlic Buttered Pasta

1 cup of pasta, cooked
1 crown of broccoli florets
1 carrot, diced small
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Cook pasta and carrots together until al dente. Add broccoli for a few minutes at the end. Drain, but reserve 1 cup of the pasta liquid.
Saute garlic in butter and olive oil. Add pasta and veggies.  Add pasta water as needed. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Breakfast Time!

I don't normally make breakfast on a weekday, but I had a snow day this week. A friend of mine posted a baked bacon recipe on Facebook. I figured I would give it a try with my scrambled eggs and toast. It turn out perfectly. Plus, there was less clean-up than there would be with frying it.

Baked Bacon

Place bacon in a glass baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Perfect every time.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What's for dinner? Beef!

Vegetable Beef Stew

1 lb. Beef Stew Meat
1 cup red onion, small dice
2 ribs celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2  tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 bay leaf
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can green beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup flour
1 cup tomato juice
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
extra salt and pepper
4-5 tablespoons olive oil

Season flour with extra salt and pepper. Dredge meat in it. Brown in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  While meat is browning, saute onion, carrots and celery in rest of olive oil. Add beef to sauteed vegetables. Add tomato juice, tomatoes and spices. Add water to fill soup pan 3/4 full. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. After two hours, add potatoes and cook for 20-30 more minutes. Add corn, peas, green beans, and tomato sauce. Cook for 10 more minutes.  Serve with crackers.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What I Am Reading Now

I received this book for Christmas, and it is very interesting. Nate Berkus appeared on Oprah many times. He also survived a tsunami, and he tells the story in this book. The book is about decorating, but it is inspirational, as well. After reading his story, you will be thinking about the things that matter in your life, too!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

For Valentine's Day, I am sharing one of my favorite romantic poems, Sonnet 17.  Love one another today and always!

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mardi Gras! Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mardi Gras 
Some things you should know...

King Cakes are an integral part of Mardi Gras. Inside the cake will be a tiny baby. The king cake represents the three kings.

The three colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. Purple represents justice. Green represents faith. Gold represents power.

My sister lives in New Orleans and has been to many parades. They have a ton of parades in New Orleans during this time. 

By law, float riders must always wear a mask.

Celebrity “grand marshals” for 2013 are Kelly Clarkson, G. W. Bailey, and Gary Sinise.

The tradition of float riders throwing trinkets to the parade goers began in 1870. Trinkets include beads, cups, and stuffed animals.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Yay, it is Mexican Monday. In all honesty, I could have Mexican Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...etc. if only my family would submit to my Mexican food addiction. Tonight was something quick and easy--Tacos! I was out of taco seasoning, but I have been having a love affair with Pinterest lately, and I remembered I pinned a taco seasoning recipe. So, I did the Mexican Sombrero Hat dance and made my own seasoning.  Okay, I might have skipped the dance part, but my tastes buds were probably dancing for spicy joy. Wow, Pinterest, you rock in so many ways! Tonight's dinner was served on Cobalt Fiesta.

Taco Seasoning
4 Tbsp Chili Powder
3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp paprika
3 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all of the spices. Then, to make a 1 pound batch of seasoned meat you will use 2 heaping tablespoons of the seasoning and 1 cup of water. This equals what one package would give you.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cowboy Up!

Well, it must be the weekend for Cowboys. I keep thinking about cowboys today. The OSU Cowboys beat KU. I recalled that my first pair of shoes as a child was a pair of cowboy boots--okay, okay, I am not sure if I remembered that or if my mom told me at some point. As I was watching the Superbowl, I thought of my early experiences with football--my dad's team was the Dallas Cowboys, and we always watched the Cowboys play. Lastly, as I was looking for a dinner idea for Superbowl Sunday, I found an idea for a certain casserole that I am now calling Cowboy Casserole because it reminds me of something I would eat as a child in Oklahoma. It is tex-mex inspired but not too spicy.

Cowboy Casserole

Tortilla Chips
1 can refried beans
1 lb. hamburger
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 can Ro-tel
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 cups grated cheese, I used a combination of Cheddar and Monterrey Jack

Brown hamburger and then add spices with 1/4 cup water. Mix in Ro-tel and soup. Set aside. 

Spray 9x13 casserole dish with nonstick spray. Crush some tortilla chips (just enough to cover bottom of dish) and then top with refried beans right out of the can. Just place little dollops of beans all over the chips. Pour meat mixture over beans. Top with crushed chips. Smother the top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Top with salsa or sour cream if desired. You can also add fresh tomatoes and lettuce if you like. 

Mexico City Style Chicken and Rice Soup

One of my favorite soups is from a restaurant called Houston's. They have a soup there that is similar to this Mexico City Style Chicken and Rice Soup. The recipes are not exactly the same. I don't think the Houston's version has chili powder or tomato paste, but I could be wrong. If there are any former Houston's chefs out there who can confirm, I would welcome it. The best thing about this soup is the freshness of the vegetables. It would be great soup to make in the summer because of the fresh farmer's market vegetables you could use. It is also good to make when it is freezing out since this soup will warm you up on a cold winter's day.

Mexico City Style Chicken and Rice Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 oz. can green chiles
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup cilantro, plus extra for garnish
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup tomatoes, chopped (I used fresh, but you can use canned)
1 can corn, drained
1/4 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1 avocado, diced
8 cups chicken broth (homemade or store bought)
Cooked Spanish rice or saffron rice, prepared according to package instructions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion in oil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chiles, garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin and cook for another minute. Add tomato paste and broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low, add cilantro and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn the heat back up, add tomatoes, corn and zucchini to soup and cook for 1-2 minute, until tender crisp. Lower heat.
To serve, mound a scoop of rice in each bowl. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with cheese and avocado.  You can also add tortilla crisps, cilantro, or extra fresh tomatoes.