Sunday, February 20, 2011

Slow cooked Boneless Chicken thighs with Saffron rice and Glazed dill Carrots

Let me just start by saying, I love my crock pot. It's a fantastic way to cook a meal that makes your family think you slaved away in the kitchen all day. The first time I ever cooked raw chicken in it, I just knew we would all have salmonella. Thankfully, that didn't happen. What did happen? We had BBQ chicken drumsticks with the meat falling off the bone. It was so delicious. I've been experimenting with different ways to cook the chicken, flavors, seasoning, and things like that. Sometimes it's a hit, sometimes it's a big ole miss, but at least it's a try.

I don't understand how people are willing to sit on the side lines and watch, instead of try, because they are afraid of failure. That, to me, is the ultimate failure, not even trying. I love to ski. I use to work at a ski resort as a ski instructor. Sometimes, when I didn’t have a class to teach, I’d go on a “clinic” with a more advanced skier, to better my skiing ability. Before we started went down the run, we were discussing the last big fall we had. I proudly said I hadn’t fallen all season. To which the Clinic leader promptly answered, “Then you haven’t been trying hard enough.” I was shocked, I thought the idea was not to fall. He went on to say that the only way to improve is to give it 100%. No one learns on the first try, but you can’t get better if you don’t push past your fears and limits. That means don’t be afraid to fall, it’s not a badge of shame,  it’s merely gravity reminding us what happens to objects that go up. Speaking of objects that go up, another good piece of advice I learned: Be careful who you step on going up the ladder of success, you might just have to pass them again on your way back down. So I learned it's ok to fall, it's just not ok to stay down.

My husband and I love to eat at a little place in Falls Church, VA. Panjshir, they serve authentic Afghan food, which is delicious. Great atmosphere, wonderful service and the food is always wonderful. We always get Sambosay Goshti, which is a deep fried pastry filled with ground beef, chickpeas and parsley for an appetizer. For my main course I get the Kebab-E-Murgh, which is chicken kebab served on a bed of saffron rice. The food leaves me full, not stuffed, with warmth all over from the wonderful mix of flavors.

For some reason, cooking with saffron has always been very intimidating to me. It’s very expensive, so I don’t want to experiment with it, not knowing how it will turn out. So it sits in the cabinet where it will end up being thrown out when I clean my spice racks out. That makes no sense, instead of trying (for fear of wasting it), I let it sit in the cabinet where it, gets wasted. Time to get up and try. I got on and typed in Saffron Rice, one of the first recipes that came up was from Paula Deen. I didn’t need to look any further. Recipe from Paula Deen, *win*. Saffron Rice with a few ingredients, *win*. Level listed as easy, *win win*.

Saffron Rice
By Paula Deen, 2007


2 tbsp butter

¾ cup diced onion

1 cup long-grain, white rice

3 cups Chicken stock

Pinch Saffron threads

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large saucepan or pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions while stirring in the rice to coat with the butter. Pour in the chicken stock, saffron, salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork before serving.

Slow cooked Boneless Chicken Thighs:

Large package of boneless, chicken thighs

1 package onion soup mix

1 carton organic chicken stock mix

1 low sodium chicken bouillon cube

1 cup water

2 cloves garlic minced

2 Stalks celery, rough chopped

1 tbsp sage

1 tbsp thyme

-Best to start this in the morning, so it will be ready for dinner and the house will smell delicious-

Pour chicken broth and water in slow cooker

Add the bouillon cube, onion soup mix, garlic, celery, sage and thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Put the lid on and turn to low leave it alone until it’s almost time to eat


2 cups chopped carrots

1 tbsp dill

2 tbsp brown sugar

3 tbsp butter

Salt to taste

Gently boil the carrots until they are soft, drain water

Melt butter in sauce pan coating the carrots; add the brown sugar and dill

Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Dinner was superb, if I say so myself.  The Carrots are my Moms recipe.  They are so delicious!!
Have a super dinner!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Roasty Toasty Peanut Butter Marshmallow Mini Bagels

Coming up with lunch ideas that are healthy, easy to make, as well as, nutritious is not an easy task for me.  I tend to find something that works, then stick to that.  If it isn't broke, don't fix it.  That gets boring, so I've been trying to come up with some different ideas. 

This past summer, Bens friend Alex came over to play.  A thunder storm came along bringing with it a pelting rain mingled with flashes of lightning.  I knew the boys were a little scared of all the noise.  It's easy to tell them a story about why there is such a loud noise coming from the sky. Sometimes it's easier than trying to explain the real reason for something.  I have always had a very good imagination, my son has one also.  That said, sometimes the funny little stories conjure up a different image for an inexperienced child.  My favorite story was, why the mountains would have smoke curling up towards the sky, after the rain. Mom told us that the bunnys were baking bread.  Well, that explained forest fires.  I love that story, I do tell my son that one. I adored the idea of little bunny chefs, in little bunny holes baking up warm yummy bunny bread.  Who doesn't love the smell of fresh baked bread! 

The reason for thunder, I was always told that the angels were bowling in heaven.  Now that's a cute story, we'll all agree.  However, I did wonder a little anxiously, what if the Angel threw a gutter ball, would it land down here?  I hoped it wouldn't land on my head. Therefore, I try not to make up a reason why something behaves in a certain manner.  Every book I read about childhood development says a childs "foundation" is developed with the first 5 years.  Therefore, I try not to make up a reason why something behaves in a certain manner, I simply try to explain it on his level.  Even the "Bunny bread" phenomena.
When he started being a little wary of thunder, I told him that thunder is just warm air and cold air bumping into each other.  The warm air says, "Oh excuse me!" while the cold air says, "No, excuse ME" and then (clap hands together) BOOM, thunder.  He laughs so hard when I tell him that.  It doesn't always comfort him, however it lightens his mood.  On this day, it wasn't doing a lot to comfort either of them, 3 years olds boys together equals more imagination.  We needed some comfort food, special food that only gets made during Thunder storms.  I fixed bread with peanut butter, and marshmallow creme toasted in the oven.  They were called Thunder Boomer sandwiches.  That did the trick, by the time they'd finished their Thunder Boomer sandwiches, the storm was over.  That didn't help me today, during the winter, when there is no thunder.  I couldn't exactly make a Thunder Boomer, if there was no thunder booming. 

I was reading in a magazine, that said, mini bagels are an excellent breakfast choice for toddlers since they are small and easy to handle.  Why not use them for lunch too, after all, it's just bread.  When I was little, we use to love to fix toast and as soon as the toast popped up, spread peanut butter over it.  It melted and tasted so good.  My little one loves peanut butter, he loves bread, he loves marshmallows.  Just like that, the Roasty Toasty was born.  It was delicious.  I served it with fresh orange slices and cottage cheese.  It was very good to see him eat well again.  He's been sick with a chest cold, that took his appetite away.  Thank the Lord he's feeling better and his appetite is back.  I had some leftover gingerbread marshmallows in gingerbread man shapes.  Good way to use them up and add a little special touch to lunch.

Roasty Toasty:

Mini bagels
creamy peanut butter
Fun shaped marshmallows, or small regular marshmallows

Turn oven broiler on low

Halve the bagels
Spread peanut butter on each half
Put marshmallows on top
Place on a cookie sheet in pre heated oven

Watch carefully, don't burn the marshmallows!

When the top of the mallow gets golden and a little smoky take out of oven immediately

Smush the mallows down and into the warmed peanut butter
Cut in four, bite size pieces making sure that the peanut butter and marshmallows are not too hot for your little one to eat. 

If anyone has any fun lunch items to share, feel free! Have a super day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cheddar cracker meatballs with tomato and sausage spaghetti sauce

Goldfish Cracker meatballs with tomato and sausage spaghetti sauce

I've missed out on blogging for a while.  I'm a shameless procrastinator, therefore I...... I'll tell you later.  Ok, I'll tell you now.  I've become a fan of a series of books by Diana Gabaldon.  They are a wonderful, intricate series of books that leave a person wanting for more.  Right now, I am eagerly awaiting the next novel in the series.  I have found a place where other people, who are addicted to this series, can go discuss them.  It's been wild to see so many different opinions of the why, how, what-just-happened, of these stories.  What's best, is the author, will actually respond to many of these posts.  There are some pretty heated discussions, but it is all in fun.  I usually don't like historical novels, I find them boring.  Hearing about how mean people are to each other, the wars, the disputes and so on, is tedious.  I can get all of that on the news channels.  What's unique about Diana's historical novels is this.  They are both fact and fiction.  She weaves an intricate web around the real history, while connecting it to her fictional story base.  It really is a fantastic series.  I encourage anyone who loves to read, to try these. 

My husband works away at times, which means he eats at restaurants more than he wants to.  When he is home, he always asks me to fix him spaghetti with meatballs.  That has to be one of my favorite dishes as well, I like it even more when someone has to fix the meatballs though.  So boring to fix, but worth it. 

We went on a family beach vacation, with my husbands side of the family.  It was a lot of fun.  We each had a night to fix dinner.  My mother-in-law, Susan, she chose spaghetti and meatballs.  The meatballs were delicious, but, they had some weird orange colored things in them.  Being a person, who, unfortunately, can get food poisoning faster than anyone else eating from the same food source, I have learned to pick through my food.  Making this obnoxious habit worse, is the fact, that I do have food allergies and found people like to put strange things in the foods they make.  Like, spinach in the lasagna.  Yes, I am allergic to spinach.  One restaurant served mango with just about everything, so I chose roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans.  What came out with my safe food choice?  Mango salsa, runny mango salsa.  You guessed it, allergic to that too.  When I noticed the orange things, many orange food choices ran through my head.  Upon noticing my complete focus on the meat balls, my husband nudges me to ask what is wrong.  I point to the orange thing in my meatball.  To which, he asks his Mom what she put in the meatballs.  Dinner conversation stopped, all eyes went to his Mom as we waited for her answer.  She gave us her list of ingredients, none of which I can remember, then explained why there were orange things in the meatballs.  She forgot to get bread crumbs so she took a bunch of the gold fish crackers, smashed them up and used them.  Genius!  So, to this day, that's the only ingredient I remember in her meat ball recipe.  They were the best I'd ever had, so I have worked to duplicate them.  The easiest thing would be, call to ask.  Well, she, like me, doesn't write down her recipes.  It's been fun, maybe not always successful, i.e., if you're going to add kale to meatballs, make sure you cut it up really really thin, and don't put too much in cause then it's just gross. 

My little boy loves to help me in the kitchen.  His question, when he sees me start to cook, "What are we fixing?"  He then opens the drawer and pulls out his Nut Cracker apron, then gets his stool to help me cook.  I had him go get his toy hammer.  He was very confused, but after promising I wouldn't start without him, he ran off to get it.  When he came in I put the gold fish crackers in a zip lock baggie and had him smash them to bits.  At first he thought it was a trick, because we aren't allowed to play with our food.  When he finally was convinced I was serious, he went to town. I believe my little boy was the magic to the secret ingredient because they were divine!  I made way too many, so I sent a bunch off to work with my husband the next day.  Cold meatballs are ok, or so he tells me.  It just sounds yuck to me, but oh well.

Imagine my surprise when I get a text message from one of his co-workers, David, asking me for the recipe.  He loved them and wanted to make some for his girlfriend.  He was lucky I had just recently made them, so I could still see what I had used, in my mind.  I was so pleased to have someone contact me for one of my recipes!! It was great. I later found out he had first contacted my husband to see if he minded if David texted me.  What a gentleman!  One of the many things I love about living in the south and in  a rural part of the states, manners.  Gentlemen will not go into a house alone, with a married (or otherwise attached) woman.  It looks bad.  He was considerate of his girlfriend as well as my husband and I. Everyone knew, so there was no chance of confusion. I find that very commendable, that there are still some men out there who do not want to give the semblance of impropriety, by contacting a married woman.  I was very impressed.  Anyway, I sent him the message with the recipe attached.  He later told me the meatballs were "amazing".  I was so happy!  So, here is the recipe.  Enjoy, and please let me know how you liked them!

Cheddar Cracker meatballs

1 jar sausage spaghetti sauce
1 lb ground round 80/20
2 shallots finely chopped or 1 small onion
1 tbsp parsley
1 1/2 tbsp oregano
2 eggs
salt & pepper
2 cups cheddar crackers (I use cheddar bunnies) smashed into crumbs ( a great job for a kid to do)

Boil water for your spaghetti noodles, fix per package instructions

heat oven to 350
Put cheddar crackers in a zip lock bag, making sure ALL the air is out (you'll not like the results of a bag blowing crackers all over your kitchen) then smash a way
Mix all the ingredients together (except the sauce)
Shape into meat balls and place in an oven proof baking dish. 
Pour sauce over the top and bake for about 45 minutes (depending upon the size of the meatball, bake for longer or shorter time)

If you make too many, you can always freeze them for later!! 

Have a wonderful time in the kitchen!