Weekly Menu for 1-19-14 and Chicken, Avocado, Mushroom, Spinach Sandwiches

Pizza is always a favorite with the family we make it about once a month and at the moment its been about two months since we have had it. Competition for pizza leftovers is stiff so I make two of them. One is a veggie pie and the other a meat and veg pie. The veggie one is made first for two reasons. One it tends to be more moist and doesn’t hold up as well and two we hit the first pie the hardest. I’ve tried adding a salad or carrot sticks, no one eat them so I gave up on that.

Tried another new recipe for Asian style meatballs that was lack luster and am kind of over new recipes for a bit. Going to stick to some of our standards and favorites for now. We have avocados and am going to make a chicken sandwiches with them this week. This particular sandwich is a hybrid of two different sandwiches.

It started out as a duplicate to a Village Inn sandwich it was chicken, avocado and mushroom. Than I came across a recipe in Bon Appetit for chicken, mushroom, and spinach sandwiches. I decided to combine them and come up with my own sandwich. They are really good, If you don’t do bread they are good just as a regular entree. If you do, do bread make sure to use a high quality roll.

Sunday- Pizza, one veg, one meat.
Monday – Asian meatballs, rice, broccoli
Tuesday – Mom’s Chicken and Noodles
Wednesday – Tuff Pork, risotto cakes, and spinach (risotto was frozen)
Thursday – Chicken, avocado, spinach mushroom sandwich and oven fries.
Friday – Easy Day
Saturday – Turkey tetrazini

Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom, Avocado Sandwiches
I love these sandwiches, love them. Don’t let the steps put you off you only use two pans and the chicken takes the longest to cook. I make my own rolls for this. They are so good.
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Makes 4 sandwiches.

2 chicken breasts cooked and cut in half
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 to 3 handfuls Spinach, sautéed
Avocado, sliced or mashed.
salt and pepper
olive oil

1.Take chicken breast and cut them in half. If they are small you will need more breast, tenders also work well. Season with salt and pepper, dust with paprika. Heat pan, add teaspoon of olive oil, and sauté chicken until done. Set aside..

2.To make the mushrooms, slice and in the same pan you cooked the chicken, pour in about 1/2 cup wine and deglaze pan. Add tablespoon butter, toss in your mushrooms, sprinkle with paprika, and sauté mushrooms until soft. Add a little more wine if you need to, you can also add some garlic.

3. Cook the spinach while you make the mushrooms. Heat a pan and sauté up your spinach. About 5 minutes.

4. Melt cheese on chicken.

5. Let folks assemble their sandwiches.


How to make a stock.

When I cut out dairy I had to read labels and once you start reading them, that’s when you realize all the weird stuff that is in your food. One stock I looked at had yeast in it, I didn’t buy that one. This is how you end up in the organic/health food aisle buying stock. In Salt Lake I had access to inexpensive stock it was two bucks a quart and it often went on sale. When I moved up to Montana that changed. The stock I used to buy for cheap is four dollars a quart up here and rarely goes on sale.
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I started making my own stock at that point in time. It sounds hard and you do need to be around the house, but you don’t have to stare at it all day while it simmers. The easiest way I have found is to freeze poultry carcasses and your excess vegetables for it. Floating about my freezer at the moment are several chicken carcasses, one turkey carcass, parsley stems, carrot and celery bits, and onion skins. I save it all up and when I am ready or in need of stock, its all there and I just need to dump it in a pot.
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Poultry Stock
1 Turkey carcass or 1 or more chicken carcasses, they can be raw or cooked.
4 or more Carrots, halved if big
3 or more Celery
2 to 4 Onions with skin, quartered
several cloves garlic whole
handful parsley or parsley stems
1 teaspoon thyme, dried or fresh
1 tables spoon whole peppercorns
2 to 4 bay leaf

Get a coffee or tea filter and put the thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaves in the filter and tie it up.
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Put it all in the pot and make sure that water covers everything thing you put in sock pot.

Bring to a boil and than turn on low to medium low and let simmer for an hour or longer. Everything in your pot will be mushy and well cooked when it is done. Turn off the heat and let it cool a bit and pop it into the fridge and let it sit over night to cool. This does two things let’s you know if you need to skim the fat and do it easily and makes pouring more easy as it is not hot potentially scalding you.  Tune in tomorrow for a How to Strain Your Stock.

Easy Roasted Winter Squash Recipe

Winter squash or pumpkin is an easy way to change up your veggies and make them more seasonal. Once fall hits I start looking forward to this addition into dinners. I like to roast a big batch and than I have leftover pumpkin for lunches. You can stuff it, roast it, bake with it, smoothie it, eat it sweet or savory. It is a very versatile veggie.
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This is my favorite way to cook pumpkin and how we eat it most often. It adds such a bright cheeriness to a fall or winter meal. Cooking it this way also brings out the natural sweetness in the pumpkin and you can get some nice caramelization depending on the type of winter squash you picked.

Easy Roasted Winter Squash
1 pumpkin sliced
1 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice you pumpkin and toss in oil and salt and pepper. I do that on the baking sheet, makes life easier. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The thicker your slices the longer it will take.

Unstuffed Cabbage

The other day at the T&C I came across some of the most beautiful Hutterite cabbage.  It was the size of my head and nice and dense.  So we bought one.  Stuffed cabbage recipes are so good, but so time consuming.  That whole having to blanch the cabbage, make filling, roll it up, cook it, and by that time your exhausted.
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I came across an unstuffed cabbage recipe and started using that method for the couple of “stuffed” cabbage recipes we like. I think this came from Bon Appetit but I am not sure and it was modified.  This is a fall and winter recipe that is comforting and hearty when the weather is cooler.  I am not a stickler for following a recipe exactly as written and rarely put as much dried fruit in as they tell you too.  It has a strong flavor already and a1/3 cup is just too much for my families tastes. Likewise with the meat use whatever ground meat you like or leave it out to make a vegetarian version.  Off the carbs don’t add the rice, we have one person who insists we have that little bit of rice.

Unstuffed Cabbage
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 onion sliced
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 pounds cabbage cored and sliced
1 to 1/2 cup broth
1/8 to 1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons rice (uncooked)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
28 oz. tomatoes

Brown ground meat and remove excess fat.  Add onions and cook until soft than add garlic. Add tomatoes, broth, cranberries, rice, vinegar, and brown sugar.  Cover pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Favorite Sites of August 2013

Here are a few of the websites I have been grooving on for the past month or longer.  They tend to be staples in my internetting.  Have a look and enjoy.

1. First website is Stumptous.com.  I love Mistress Krista with her rants and no nonsense attitude towards women and weight training.  Stumptous is a site that has served me well over the years for training programs and advice.  If you haven’t checked out this site do it.

2. Another long time favorite is Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks.  She has a couple of cookbooks out now too.  Heidi’s focus is on whole foods and vegetarian cuisine.  It has my go to recipe for cooking quinoa on it.  She has beautiful soups that are on the to try list or already a fixture in the winter soup menus.  Heidi offers a wide variety of recipes.

3. Caroline Hirons over at Beauty Mouth has great skin care advice.  While she is not completely natural in her skin care (neither am I though) she is wonderful. Her cheat sheets for skin care are awesome.  I went through most of my life thinking my skin was just oily and crazy, turned out my skin was dehydrated.  She will tell you what is crap and what is not.

4. Pinterest, oh how I love you.  I’ve been hitting that site pretty hard in the last few weeks.  Food, nail polish, yoga poses, smoothie ideas, hair. Pinterest has it on there.  Much more fun than booking marking stuff and you get to ogle everyone else’s pins.  Oven fries are a staple in my life because of Pinterest.

5. Elsie’s Yoga Kula, I love Elsie.  She is an Anusura instructor who does podcasts.  She is one of my favorites for yoga practice.  She offers beginners, intermediate and advanced yoga practices via free podcasts.  She has 99 podcasts at this point with something for every mood.

If you have any sites you love let me know.  I am always looking for new places to visit and stalk. 

Happy Earth Day!

There’s my garden.

Happy Earth Day!  It is snowing here.  We have several inches of the white stuff on the ground.  Everyone has cabin fever by now since the weather has been cold and snowy for two weeks.  All I want to do is go outside and be warm while out. No more trudging through snow.

Even Zachary the cat is getting cabin fever.

Springtime is when my mind turns to gardening and I start looking over my seeds and seeing if I need more of anything.  We stay cool up here in the mountains even in July and August so most hot weather plants are out of the running.  They just do not have a chance up here, too cold at night coupled with a short growing season.  Yeah, not happening.

My lettuce mix.

But what I can grow really well is greens and lettuces all summer long.  Fresh salad greens are tasty, tender, and flavourful, makes spring mix from the store very unappealing.  I am a lettuce freak when it comes to the garden, love the stuff.  Here are my top six lettuces.

1. Arugula aka Rocket: peppery and spicy.  Eat it alone with a balsamic vinaigrette or mix it in with mild lettuces.  Avocado, arugula and balsamic vinaigrette.  Okay I am starting to drool.

2. Buttercrunch is sweet and buttery.  Makes a lovely salad all on its own.  Pick a more delicate dressing as it is not a strong tasting lettuce.

3. Parsley in salad is zippy.  If you haven’t tried parsley in salad, toss some in, its good.

4. Chervil is also an herb. It adds a subtle anise flavour and is a pretty addition to any salad.

5. Red Oak Leaf for colour and it also tastes good. This is a nice mild lettuce that adds colour to a salad.

6. Nasturtiums get an honourable mention.  You can eat the leaves and flowers for peppery punch.  

If you haven’t tried growing lettuces, give it a go, you will get a better variety than what you see at a store. Remember they grow best in cool weather, some are more heat tolerant than others,  Fresh lettuce from garden to table in one day, no transportation, and you know what went into it to grow it.  Happy Earth Day everyone.