Archive for August, 2010
On Hells Kitchen, the cooks are ALWAYS messing up the risotto. I’ve never eaten risotto at a restaurant. I’ve made a Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Risotto, but I have no idea if my risotto tastes anything like what “real” risotto is supposed to taste like. So, I’m on a quest to find the “perfect” risotto, without having eaten anyone else’s risotto before. lol I googled all of the tips on making risotto that I could find and put them into use while making my latest risotto, so hopefully I’m somewhat close to “real” risotto.
The recipe I used for my latest risotto was Rachel Ray’s Lemon Risotto. It turned out…okay. There was a LOT of cheese thrown in at the end and I think it really ruined it. It was just too heavy and cheesy for my liking. I adjusted to recipe to feed our family of 8:
2 quart chicken stock
4 cups water
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 cup Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup grated pecorino cheese, a couple of handfuls
4 tablespoons slivered mint leaves
2 handfuls basil tops, shredded or torn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, heat the stock and 2 cups water over medium low heat.
In a risotto pot or large skillet with a rounded bottom, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic to pan and saute to soften 3 to 4 minutes Stir in the rice and add the zest of 2 lemons. Heat the rice for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook until evaporated. Add in the hot stock, a few ladles at a time, and stir for a minute with each addition, to develop the starch and the creamy aspect. Total cooking time will be about 30 minutes or so. Keep adding stock each time the pan starts to become dry at the edges. While the rice cooks, peel and supreme or section the flesh of a lemon and finely chop. Sprinkle with a 1 teaspoon sugar. When rice is cooked to al dente, stir in the butter, lemon sections, juice of 2 lemon, the cheese and herbs. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.
On top of the lemon risotto, I put The Pioneer Woman’s Firecracker Shrimp. I used a bit less sriracha than hers called for because the last time I made it, the kids found it a bit too spicy. I also just fried it up in a regular pan instead of on a grill pan. I don’t have a grill pan and I didn’t feel like pulling out the BBQ. This recipe was modified from the original to feed our family of 8:
2 lbs shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 T. Sriracha hot chili sauce
6 T Olive oil (organic)
3/4 t salt
2 T sugar (organic)
15 cloves garlic, pressed (organic)
Combine all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag, then add shrimp and marinate for 20 minutes to 2 hours. Fry for 5 minutes, flipping occasionally.
Total for firecracker shrimp: $24.45
Total for Lemon Risotto: I can’t find my receipt right now, but will update when I find it!
This wasn’t a terribly affordable meal, but an experimental meal in my quest for the perfect risotto! The children all LOVED this dish. My eldest, who has always claimed to hate shrimp and refuses to eat it, finally ate shrimp and realized she doesn’t hate it afterall! Yay! They all agreed that the risotto was too cheesy. I think it would have been fine without the cheese.
Okay, so our last camping menu post brought us through Saturday night. It was decided that since I hadn’t made the planned breakfast on Saturday, I would make Saturday’s breakfast on Sunday as well as Sunday’s breakfast. This way there was plenty of food for whoever wanted to come over to our campsite to eat.
We had linquica instead of turkey sausage, a dozen scrambled eggs, and fresh squeezed OJ. We didn’t end up making the muffins because time just got away from me. This is how I cooked the linquica and scrambled eggs:
We used to have a bigger camping stove. I went camping A LOT when I was a child and every summer we went with the same group of people. That group decided that whenever anyone’s kids from that group got married, they would purchase them a camping stove as a wedding gift. So, we got one. Unfortunately, I let someone borrow it a long time ago and, for the life of me, can’t remember who, and never got it back. So, we had this little stove in our emergency supplies, and it worked just fine!
That morning, I also made Mountain Man Breakfast:
Mountain Man Breakfast
2 medium yellow onions; diced
1 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms; sliced
1 green bell pepper; diced
3 cloves garlic; minced
10-12 medium potatoes; sliced
12 eggs; beaten
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups grated Cheddar cheese
Heat a 12″ Dutch oven using 18-20 briquettes bottom until hot. Cut bacon into 1 inch slices. Add to Dutch oven and fry until brown. Add onion, mushrooms, bell pepper and saute until onions are translucent. Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cover and bake using 8 briquettes bottom and 14-16 briquettes top for 30 minutes. Season eggs with salt and pepper then pour eggs over top of potatoes. Cover and bake another 20 minutes. Stir gently every 5 minutes. When eggs are done, cover top with cheese and replace lid. Let stand until cheese is melted.
Serve topped with picante sauce.
This ended up REALLY good…even if it wasn’t all that visually appealing. There was a TON of it and it didn’t all get eaten, which was unfortunate because by that time, all of the ice had melted in the cooler, so it ended up going to waste.
Sunday’s lunch: Oh my goodness, this was SO SO SO SO SO SO good! The kids had PB&J’s because I knew they wouldn’t appreciate the muffaletta sandwiches, but my husband and I LOVED them, as did the others that ate them.
INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS:
1 head of celery
1/2 a jar of Mezzetta® Brand, Home Style Cured Pitted Olives, drained
2 jars Mezzetta® Brand artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 a jar of Mezzetta® Brand roasted sweet red pepper strips, drained
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large muffaletta loaf or piece of plain focaccia (approximately 8 inches by 12 inches)
good-quality extra virgin olive oil
2 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
a small bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked
2 x 4 ounces balls of buffalo mozzarella
4 ounces Parma ham or prosciutto, the best quality you can afford
4 ounces smoked ham, the best quality you can afford, thinly sliced
4 ounces freshly grated provolone piccante cheese
4 ounces hot Neapolitan salami, the best quality you can afford
Snap off the outer sticks of the celery and put them back in the refrigerator for another time. Trim off the base, then pick off and discard any big green leaves. Pick off and reserve the paler, smaller leaves, and finely slice the pale tender core. Roughly chop the olives and place in a bowl with the celery, the artichokes and the peppers, then season with a little salt and pepper.
Slice the bread in half horizontally and open it out on your board. Drizzle with the best extra virgin olive oil you have. Spread the celery salad evenly on the bottom half, top with the sliced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, then tear the basil leaves over the top. Tear over the mozzarella, then layer up the sandwich with prosciutto, smoked ham, grated provolone cheese and salami. Put the top of the bread back on and press down firmly to squash all the fillings together. Chop into thick wedges
The only problem with this sandwich was that the bread got REALLY soggy on the bottom. I think that was mostly my fault. I tried to prepare as much as possible before I left and the olives,celery, the artichokes and pepper mixture released a lot of liquid while it sat in the ziplock bag in the freezer.
This was a total splurge. Nothing about it was affordable. Everything about it was delicious!
Dinner: We did end up having the Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Tartines. Well, some of us did. I cooked them on the grill top over the coals instead of directly on the coals (taking a lesson from the previous artichoke and pesto packets) and they turned out absolutely amazing! However, my mom was having spaghetti and french bread, which was just too hard for my kids to pass up for mushrooms and asparagus. lol So, they offered a trade…their asparagus packets, for a plate of spaghetti and french bread. lol The adults enjoyed the packets and the kids chowed down on Spaghetti!
Dessert: I made a cherry crisp cobbler in the dutch oven. Unfortunately, there was nowhere near enough to feed everyone that wanted some, but everyone got at least a bite or so.
Cherry Crisp Cobbler
2 (30 oz.) cans cherry pie filling 1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Line a 12″ Dutch oven with heavy duty foil. Pour cherry pie filling into oven and spread evenly. In a separate bowl combine sugar, flour, oatmeal, and pecans; stir to mix. Add vanilla. Cut butter into 1 Tbs. size pieces then using your fingers work butter into the crumb mixture until coarse pea sized crumbs form. Spread topping evenly over cherries.
Cover Dutch oven and bake using 8-10 briquettes bottom and 14-16 briquettes top for 45-60 minutes until crisp is golden brown and fruit is bubbly.
Serve topped with whipped cream.
Variation: Stir in one 30 oz. can of drained sliced peaches or diced pears to the cherry pie filling.
I mixed all of the topping together in a ziplock before we left for the trip, so it was all just a matter of dumping everything in together.
Monday morning, the kids just had oatmeal for breakfast, then we headed home!
To bring it all to a close, you know your children had fun when they look like this:
My friend, Amanda, over at The Screaming Penny, is having a fantastic giveaway! She’s giving away a $25 gift card to Safeway (and it’s affiliates) and a certificate worth 50 boxtops for your school. So, not only can you save money on groceries, but you can help your school out as well!
I actually feel guilty that my family doesn’t participate in the box top program at school. My children are always coming home, talking about the box top competitions they have going on at school, offering prizes for the class that brings in the most box tops. We buy very few food items that come in boxes, and even fewer are the type of item that would have the box tops for education thing on it. I certainly wouldn’t mind sending my child in with FIFTY box tops during the next competition! Take THAT second grade class that always wins!!!
I really like the “O Organics” line that Safeway has. It’s affordable, tastes pretty good, and is really helping to bring organic more mainstream, which I’m all for! It’s also helpful for those times I just don’t have the time or energy to make everything from scratch!
We’re back…obviously. We didn’t spend almost two weeks camping, but between preparing for camping, camping, cleaning up after camping, and starting school, free time has been scarce around here. Yep, school started! I now have a seventh, fifth, third, second and kindergartener! Crazy sauce!
So, camping…it was actually a lot of fun! I had forgotten how enjoyable it can be to just spend time with family outdoors. Of course, this didn’t hurt:
The river was absolutely breathtaking and it was difficult to get my children out of it!
Of course, with a river, comes the creatures in it. Nothing says inexpensive food like a day spent like this:
Followed by this:
Ending with this:
Yep, about fifteen good sized crawdads made a nice little appetizer for the kids. Now, whenever Allie sees lobsters at the store, she calls them HUGE crawdads and talks about catching them at the river. Those are the things our children will remember in life. <3
Sadly, I got very few pictures of the food...which is odd because I felt like I spent the majority of the camping trip cooking! It was a lot of fun, though, and I learned a few tricks to remember for next time. Yes...next time. I plan on braving the outdoors again.
I pretty much stuck to our planned menu.
Lunch – Chicken Salad Sandwiches on Croissants – I prepared the chicken salad at home. I had the croissants and chicken salad in the cooler, on top, so they were easy to reach and could be prepared before setting up camp because I knew my kids would be hungry. I make super easy chicken salad and it is SO good!
5 cans white meat chicken (I found an organic brand recently…awesome!)
1/2 C. Veganaise (I use the non organic, grapeseed oil version because the organic version is made from soy oil and I’d rather have non organic grapeseed oil than organic soy oil)
5 celery stalks, chopped
2 C. red grapes, cut in half (my secret ingredient…don’t leave it out!!!)
1/2 C. sliced almonds (my kids don’t like them, but I love them, so I make them eat them!)
I throw it all together, slice croissants in half, put some of the chicken salad on the croissants, add some alfalfa sprouts, close the sandwich, and chow down. SO GOOD!
Dinner – Wagon Master Camp Stew – This was my first attempt cooking over coals in a dutch oven. I got the recipe here: http://papadutch.home.comcast.net/~papadutch/dutch-oven-recipe-wagonmstrstew.htm
2-3 lb. boneless chuck roast 1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup flour 2 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. pepper 1/2 tsp. tobasco
1/4 cup olive oil 5 carrots; peeled & sliced
1 large onion; diced 4 stalks celery; sliced
1 head garlic; minced 6 medium potatoes; diced
1 quart hot water 1 lb. bag frozen corn
2 packets brown gravy mix 1 lb. bag frozen petite peas
1 packet mushroom gravy mix 1 lb. bag frozen green beans
2 bay leaves 15 oz. can kidney beans
1 tsp. thyme
Trim excess fat from meat and cut into 1″ cubes. In a medium size bowl combine flour, salt, and pepper and stir to mix. Add meat and mix until meat is well coated.
Heat a 12″ deep Dutch oven using 24 briquettes bottom heat. Add olive oil then meat and brown meat on all sides. Add onion and garlic and continue cooking until onions are soft and translucent.
Add HOT water, gravy mixes, bay leaves, thyme, sugar, worcestershire sauce, paprika, and tobasco. Stir to mix completely. Bring to a boil then add carrots and celery. Return to boil and let cook 15 minutes.
Stir in remaining ingedients and bring contents to a boil. Cover Dutch oven and reduce briquettes on bottom to 12 and add 6 briquettes to the lid. Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
This cooked SO slowly…which is usually a good thing when it comes to stew. When I make this again, I will definitely be using more briquettes. Even after two hours, the meat was really chewy and the potatoes were still not fully cooked. We ate it anyways and it was delicious. It was even better the next morning, after it had continued cooking in the hot pot overnight, then heated over the fire in the morning! This made enough to feed my family for two meals. It was a semi expensive meal because I only use organic, grass fed beef, which is about $7.99/lb.
Dessert – Chocolate covered rice crispy treats heated over the fire – This went off menu. My kids were over at my mom’s campsite and suddenly this was dessert. lol No wonder my kids like her more than they like me!
Breakfast – Leftover Wagon Master Stew – Off menu again. I didn’t realize how much stew this recipe was going to make!
Breakfast Dessert – Roasted bananas with chocolate chips – Yes, we invented a meal…breakfast dessert! We knew we were going to have s’mores this night, so we ate the planned dessert for breakfast dessert instead!
coconut oil spray
2 C. semi sweet chocolate chips
Dash of salt
Tear off sheets of tinfoil approximately 1 ft. long. Spray one side with coconut oil spray. Slice banana peel, lengthwise to create a pocket. Place 1/4 C. chocolate chips in the pocket you created. Sprinkle chocolate chips with a dash of salt. Wrap banana up in tinfoil. Place on grill, above hot charcoal. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from fire, open packets and enjoy!
Not the prettiest of the bunch, but I’m just lucky my husband thought to take a picture!
Lunch – Roast Beef Sandwiches – on nice organic bread, with veganaise, romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and alfalfa sprouts
Dinner – Artichoke and new potato packets – I made this over briquettes. I put the kid’s packs directly on the coals and mine above them on the grill over the fire. I should have put them all on the grill. The potatoes burned in the kids and mine was PERFECT.
Dessert – S’Mores! Do I really need a recipe for this? lol The adults DID shake things up a bit and use peanut butter cups instead of chocolate bars! YUM!
This post is getting really long, so I think I’ll continue it tomorrow with the rest of the meals!
Okay, so I’ve come up with a tentative camping menu. It is subject to change as I’m shopping if I decide it’s costing too much. lol
We are going from Friday to Monday. Friday lunch needs to be easy because it will be eaten before we set up camp. Monday breakfast and lunch need to be easy because they will be prepared as we are taking down camp. That leaves fun stuff in between!
Breakfast – at home
Lunch – Chicken salad sandwiches on croissants
Dinner – Wagon Master Camp Stew
Dessert – S’mores
Breakfast – Turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, campfire muffins, fresh squeezed OJ
Lunch – Roast beef sandwiches
Dinner – Artichoke and new potato packets
Dessert – Foil roasted bananas with chocolate
Breakfast – Mountain Man Breakfast
Lunch – PB&J for the kids, Muffaletta for the adults
Dinner – Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Tartines
Dessert – Cherry Crisp Cobbler
Breakfast – Oatmeal
Lunch – PB&J for the kids, mixed green salad with raspberries, pears and feta for the adults
I’ll be back on Tuesday with recipes and how it all went over!
So, I mentioned in a previous post that I thought I would be adding my kefir water to our morning smoothies, so I thought I’d go into that a bit further.
Our morning smoothies are the most important meal of the day that we “eat.” Knowing that I send my children off each morning with the very best start they can possibly get is very important to me. They take a bit of prep, but we’ve been doing this for a number of years, so they are made pretty quickly now.
When most people hear “smoothies” they think of Jamba Juice style smoothies…lots of fruits and some yogurt or juice or something. Our smoothies are mostly greens. It always starts off with a liquid base (it used to be coconut water, but we have since switched to water kefir). I then add an entire raw bunch of kale or chard, or about six cups of raw baby spinach, and blend it all up. What comes next varies based on what I have on hand. Lately, I’ve been really lazy and have just been purchasing organic frozen fruit and throwing that in. The past few weeks have been mango, pineapple, goji berries, peaches and (the most important part) wild blueberries. Blueberries are ESSENTIAL because my children hate drinking smoothies that are green. lol The blueberries turn them purple I blend all of this together, adding more liquid as necessary, then serve it up immediately. I have to make two batches to feed our entire family. They probably get about 2 1/2 cups of smoothie each morning.
I’ve experimented with different greens. Romaine lettuce seems to be what a lot of people seem to suggest, but I think it’s NASTY. Other vegetables that are really strong that make the smoothie not all that awesome are: red bell pepper, arugula, and celery. Cucumber really comes through in the smoothie, but my family really likes cucumber, so don’t mind the overpowering taste of cucumber in the smoothies.
Sometimes, I’ll make myself a blenderful of smoothie in the morning, drink some, then put the rest in the fridge in a mason jar. If you want to try that, I would HIGHLY recommend using spinach instead of kale or chard. Both kale and chard leave a funky sludge if they’ve sat for very long. It pretty much goes away if you shake it really well, but I’m just not a big fan. It’s best to drink the smoothies immediately anyways because the fruits and veggies begin to oxidize and lose nutrients after being exposed to air.
When I’m not using all frozen fruits (I do use at least one frozen fruit in each smoothie so it’s a nice slushy consistency) I try to use as much of the fruit as possible. If I add an orange, I’ll cut it into quarters, peel 3/4 of it and throw the last quarter in it with the peel still attached. I chop up apples for the smoothie, but don’t remove the skin. Strawberries (which I only use for my smoothies because two of my daughters are allergic to them) are thrown in with the hull. I use carrots that still have the greens attached and and throw those in as well. All of this gets blended up anyways and add to the nutrients, so there’s no point in peeling things! (Unless the peel is bitter, which is why I only add 1/4 peel for oranges, limes and lemons). I hate bananas, so I’ve never used them, but I would probably peel them. lol
My children look forward to their morning smoothies each day and I notice a big difference in the amount of energy I have throughout the day if I skip my morning smoothie.
So, here is my “too die for, oh my goodness, I want this for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks, I could live on this, OMG, it’s SO good” Smoothie smoothie that I came up with a while back. It’s seriously delicious. However, you have to follow the ingredients exactly or it doesn’t turn out nearly as good. You can’t use regular honey. It must be lehua honey. You can’t leave anything out. Well, you can, but then it’s not my “too die for, oh my goodness, I want this for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks, I could live on this, OMG, it’s SO good” smoothie.
Divinity Smoothie (I named it…nice, right? lol)
1/2 C. coconut water
3 T. bee pollen
2 unpacked C. baby spinach
6 strawberries, hulls included
2 t. lehua honey
Seriously, try it…you won’t be disappointed!
Sadly, I haven’t found a source for bee pollen since moving up here. I miss Jimbo’s.