Friday, March 29, 2013

Asian Sesame Salmon

Here's a new recipe we tried recently and loved. I found it on my friend's blog here. The flavor was delicious and it was quick to put together. I made a few changes to the original recipe so I could make it with what I had at home. It was delicious. This makes a large amount. I actually only did half the recipe and used 1 lb of salmon. Hope you enjoy it as well.

Asian Sesame Salmon

1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp dried, minced onioin, rehydrated
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp dried, minced garlic
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

2 lbs salmon fillets

Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Place salmon in 9x13 pan.  Spoon  honey mixture evenly over salmon. Roast salmon in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork, basting occasionally with honey mixture.

You could also wrap the salmon in foil packets and cook them on the grill. This is what we will be doing this time around since I don't have an oven hooked up right now with the remodel happening. Dry wall work is finishing up this week and then painting and flooring begin - we are making progress!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

I don't know how I got to be this old without ever eating these amazing bar cookies. It's like chocolate peanut butter fudge trapped in the middle of a granola bar! They were so very easy to throw together even without a kitchen since we are remodeling this month.(You probably noticed the fancy paper plate - it's all I have right now.) I put these together using an electric frying pan on the bathroom counter in the basement and the microwave which is in it's temporary resting place on top of a dresser in the family room. They were enjoyed by all - I think we have found a new family favorite! 

Here are the step-by-step photos for those who need a visual - 

Cook oat mixture - if you look really close in the upper right hand corner you'll notice the toothpaste and toothbrushes since I am dong this on the bathroom counter. I also have to do it in the dark since the electric frying pan with the lights turned on blows the circuit. Kitchen remodels are always an adventure!

Melted chocolate chips and peanut butter

Press 3/4 of oat mixture into bottom of pan.

Spread with melted goodness.

Top with remaining oats.

Voila! One of the best desserts you can make without a kitchen!

No-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups creamy peanut butter

Melt butter in saucepan (or electric frying pan.) Stir in brown sugar, vanilla, and quick oats. Allow to cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, mix peanut butter with chocolate chips in a glass bowl. Melt in the microwave on 50% power for 1-2 minutes. Stir and put back in the microwave, if needed. Spray a 9x13 pan with vegetable spray. Press 3/4 of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of the pan. Spread the melted chocolate mixture over the oatmeal. Top with remaining oatmeal mixture. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow to set. Enjoy! Makes 48 squares.

Adapted from Sweet Remedy

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Freezer to Crockpot Orange Chicken

My family cheers every time they learn we are having this for dinner! It pleases everyone which is a difficult task with seven of us. They would probably not mind if we ate it every week. I've adapted the recipe over the years to make it very easy which allows me to cheer too!

Our remodel continues - this recipe was easy to cook on the bathroom counter. I did the chicken in the crockpot and the egg rolls (pre-made and in the freezer a few months ago) and stir-fry veggies in an electric frying pan. I had pre-cooked rice also waiting in the freezer that we warmed in the microwave.

Freezer to Crockpot Orange Chicken

3 chicken breasts
1 cup orange juice
1 cup brown sugar, packed ½ cup apple cider vinegar
1–2  Tbsp soy sauce 5-6 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup orange juice

Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, orange juice and vinegar in a gallon size ziplock freezer bag. Add 3 fresh or frozen chicken breasts.  Label bag and freeze. Thaw before cooking. Dump everything into the crockpot and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5-6 hours. Fish the chicken out of the crockpot and set aside. Use a slotted spoon to remove any unwanted material that may be floating in the sauce. Discard. To thicken the sauce, mix cornstarch with a little bit of cold water. Add to crockpot and mix. Dice chicken and return to crockpot. Allow to simmer 30 minutes on high to complete the thickening process. (I always use Ultra Sperse to thicken my sauce.  It is an instant thickener. This means that I can just sprinkle a little in and stir then decide if I need a bit more. I can get it to "just the right" thickness without guessing and I don't have to wait 30 minutes.) Once the sauce is thick, serve over rice.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pasta Primavera

This is one of our family'e favorite pasta dishes. It is quick to throw together and easy to double the batch. I use fresh carrots if I have them. When using fresh carrots, you need to simmer the sauce until the carrots are tender instead of turning off the heat and allowing it to just sit and re-hydrate the veggies. I also trade up the noodles sometimes using spaghetti noodles and sometimes fettuccine. 

This dish freezes well so I always double it and put the extra in a freezer bag. To use the frozen pasta dish, just thaw and microwave in a covered, glass dish until heated through, stirring occasionally. It makes for a quick and easy dinner with garlic bread and lettuce salad served on the side.

Pasta Primavera
Everything can be done in the time it takes the pasta to cook for a quick dinner any night.

1 can cream of mushroom soup
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup reconstituted powdered milk
½ tsp dried, minced garlic
¼ cup dehydrated carrots
⅛ tsp pepper
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
3 cups cooked spaghetti

Combine everything but the spaghetti in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and turn the heat off. Allow to sit for 15–20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in pasta and heat through.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Freezer to Crockpot Chicken Broccoli Casserole

This is the dinner we enjoyed last night even though we are living in the basement without a working kitchen. We have now survived a week of the kitchen remodel and we have learned a few lessons - the number one lesson we have learned is that preparation pays off. The freezer to crockpot and freezer to microwave meals have been a huge success! I pull something out of the freezer in the morning (or the night before if I remember) and it is easily ready to go for dinner. We've kept it simple with side dishes. Some that have worked well are pre-washed lettuce salad, fresh veggies and fruits, canned fruits or veggies. Frozen veggies have also worked, we just heat them in the microwave.

Here is my casserole prepared, labeled, and ready for the freezer.

I prepared it along with 5-6 other meals the same afternoon a few weeks ago.

I don't usually worry about using the slow cooker liners, but without a kitchen sink, they have been very helpful.

Below is my recipe for chicken broccoli casserole. I have cooked it in the crockpot many times, but this is the first time I froze it first. I did alter the directions slightly to work this way. Mix soup, mayonnaise, sour cream (or plain yogurt) and seasonings together. Omit the bread crumbs and sprinkle the cheese on top of individual servings on each plate, if desired. We just skipped it all together. Place three full, raw chicken breasts in a gallon freezer ziplock bag. Pour the soup mixture into the bag. Plan to add the broccoli the last 30-40 minutes of cooking. Label bag and freeze. I made a note on my bag to remind me to add the frozen broccoli. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4. Serve over rice.

When it was done cooking, I fished the chicken breasts out and cut them into cubes and then returned them to the crockpot. You would not need to do this if you prefer serving your chicken breasts whole. With a family of mostly younger children, I knew I would be cutting it up for everyone anyway and decided it would be easiest to do this way instead of waiting until it was served onto plates.

This has been a family recipe for years—it is true comfort food.

1–2 lbs chicken, cooked and cubed
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups frozen broccoli
1–2 tsp lemon pepper
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup sour cream (plain yogurt)

Mix soup, mayonnaise, sour cream and seasonings together. Layer chicken, broccoli, soup mixture and cheese in a 9x13-inch pan. Top with bread crumbs. Cover with foil and bake at 325° F 30–45 minutes. This also cooks well in the microwave or crockpot. Stir a few times while it is heating. Sprinkle bread crumbs and cheese on top just before serving. We love this served over rice. This casserole freezes well. Thaw and then bake as above.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Apple Cherry Pandowdy and Pie Crust Recipe

Pandowdy is a fun word to say - it is also very easy to make. I always try to keep some pie crust in the freezer so this becomes a quick dessert. Double crust pies have always intimidated me a bit because I always have a tricky time getting my top crust to look just right. With a pandowdy, there is no "perfect" about it - so no reason to be afraid.

Fill your pan - whatever shape or size you want with pie filling. I used 1 quart of home canned cherry pie filling and sliced in a few apples to cut down on the sweetness of the pie filling a little.

Then roll out your pie crust. (Mine is 1/2 white flour 1/2 whole wheat flour which is why it looks a little darker.) Cut your crust with a pizza cutter into small pieces about 1 1/2 inches square - remember there is nothing perfect about this. Lay them across the top in a haphazard pattern, covering most of the filling.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes - until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.
Enjoy warm with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream - delicious!

Try some other flavor combinations. We like apples mixed with any kind of berry. We have also done apple, cherry, rhubarb. And when the garden is going crazy with zucchini, we use it in place of the apples - that is a recipe for another post another day. Enjoy!

Pie Crust
This crust recipe freezes very well. Double or triple the batch and freeze in individual crust sizes. It will keep for 6 months or more in the freezer.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shortening
½ tsp salt
Ice water

Cut the shortening into the flour and salt mixture with a fork until the pieces of shortening are between the size of quarters and nickels (no smaller.) Add ice water a tablespoon at a time. Toss the moistened area with a fork until it begins to pull together into a ball. Set it aside and add more ice water to the dry parts, tossing as you go. When all the dough is moistened, but not sticky, separate into two parts. Shape into disks about 4 inches across and wrap in plastic wrap. (You can freeze the dough at this point to use later. Thaw and roll out when it is still cold.) Refrigerate the dough for at least 10 minutes, but 2–3 hours is best. (The trick to a crispy crust is larger pieces of fat that are cold so they can create pockets of steam in the crust when it bakes.) Roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap to fit the pan. If baking empty, place a piece of foil over the crust and fill with a hand full of dry beans. This will keep bubbles from forming in the crust. Bake at 400° F for 8–10 minutes until lightly browned. If filling crust, use a precooked filling that is already thickened to speed up the baking process. Top with crust, cut a few vent holes, and bake at 400° F for 30–35 minutes or until golden brown. Check after 25 minutes and cover edges with foil if crust is browning too quickly.