John B.’s Chicken Fajitas and the Weekly Menu for 3-30-14

Pork and cranberry stew was supposed to be on this weeks menu. Its been on the let’s make list for ages now. It seems like we never have all the ingredients, this week was the lack of oranges. It shall just have to wait for ye another week.
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In the next month or so we are getting half a cow so eating out of the freezer for prepared foods is a priority, plus it gives me two low maintenance cooking nights. I also ended up with two jars of salsa open so the fajitas will kill one of them. Dad requested Beef and Barley that got put on the menu this week. Its nice when someone else has an idea besides me.

Sunday – Spaghetti (freezer) and garlic bread
Monday – Chicken Fajitas
Tuesday – Pizza
Wednesday – Sweet and sour chick thighs with carrots. Orzo or basmati
Thursday – Beef and Barley soup
Friday – Easy night, thinking burgers
Saturday – Freezer meal, Unstuffed Cabbage

This weeks recipe comes from John B. who was my boyfriend in the early 20’s. Originally it was salsa, beer, and Lawry’s seasoning salt. The seasoning salt got swapped out for spices and a lower salt content. It’s not a traditional fajita recipe but that’s what he called them and I kept the name. I made these for a couple of friends who were on a speaking tour in the 90’s with the African National Congress Youth Tour and they were so excited. Clayton exclaimed, “They had not had food like this in the U.S.” It was a big hit.
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You want to use a good quality salsa in this recipe as it is one of the layers of flavors. Mushrooms may seem a bit odd but they help make the recipe. Vegetarians can easily make the fajita recipe using a mix of mushrooms and have it be satisfying meal. The recipe also works well with steak but you will need to add the juice of half a lime. The steak variation needs the lime juice or it just tastes flat.

John B.’s Chicken Fajitas
2 -3 cups salsa (I used Kirkland’s and used to use La Victoria)
1 12 oz bottle beer (Corona is what’s on hand)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet (a pound) chicken breasts or tenders, cut up
5 to 10 mushrooms washed and sliced
1 -2 teaspoon Coriander, ground
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste.
Olive oil

Sautee chopped onion in the olive oil until soft and add half the beer, half the salsa and all of the chicken. Cook for a few minutes and add coriander and cumin. Cook until chicken is not pink and add the mushrooms and the rest of the beer and salsa. At this point it will seem like there is a lot of liquid. Put the heat on high if it isn’t already and let it reduce. When the sauce has thickened you know its done, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Fixings
Extra salsa
hot sauce
grated cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
avocado slices
tomatoes,diced
tortillas
or anything else that sounds yummy.

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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
Cheese
Avocado, sliced or mashed.
salt and pepper
olive oil
butter
wine
paprika

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.

Weekly Menu 12-29-13: Sloppy Janes and a bonus recipe

As a child I hated Sloppy Joes and ate them because I had too. Sloppy Joes, chili, and chow mien remain three things, I still really dislike and was so happy to stop having to eat when I got old enough to have a say. I came across an Asian style recipe in Fine Cooking and decided to give it a whirl. It is now in the permanent rotation.

New Years Eve is the last indulgent holiday for a while, thank goodness. I know everyone in my family is feeling as they have had enough indulging and decadence with food for a while. Its time to make some more wholesome dinners for a while.

Sunday – Asian Sloppy Janes, sweet potato fries, celery sticks
Monday (NYE)- Chicken, Alfredo sauce, pasta, roasted brussels
Tuesday – Pork and cranberry stew, rice
Wednesday – Easy Beef burritos, lettuce, tomatoes
Thursday- Pork and Bulgar casserole, green beans
Friday – Easy Day – Brats and tots, carrot sticks
Saturday – Freezer Soup

Asian style Sloppy Janes adapted from Fine Cooking
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon onion powder ( don’t measure I just dust it)
3/4 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 lb. ground turkey
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce

Brown turkey, if needed get rid of extra fat.
Toss garlic and onion powder in with ground turkey cook for a minute
Add ginger, cayenne, tomato sauce, and hoisin sauce and cook on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes. If it gets away from you this part can go quickly add a little water to thin it.

Ta da dinner. This is a stupid easy dinner that is quick. Its even quicker if you have browned turkey frozen. You could make a big batch and freeze if you want to.

Note it is now 1-1-14 and have decided I don’t want Pork and Bulgar casserole and that the lack of chili paste in the cranberry thing might be too sweet without the heat so… Yeah menus change even mid week sometimes. Thinking Bolognese one night it sounds so good and no idea. There was a pork should recipe on Pinterest, maybe that.

Bonus recipe that is stupid easy. I forgot to take pictures of the Sloppy Janes so you get a bonus recipe this week.
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Pesto Chicken
You will need chicken breast or tenders and 1/4 cups of pesto. I used tenders as you get more chicken in the packets. Cook Chicken until done 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Add pesto and turn off heat, stir to coat and that’s it.

Weekly Menu 12-22-13 and Bacon and Olive Stuffed Mushrooms

Holiday weeks tend to mean a bit richer food and a dedicated dessert. I try to keep the dinners surrounding more complicated dinners simple. Takes a bit of the stress off one. We try to keep it more simple on Christmas Eve but still special, it seems like we alternate between homemade pelmini and store bought tortellini in broth. Christmas Day is a nice dinner and we all just chill out.

Sunday – Sausage and kale pasta bake (freezer)
Monday – Leftovers this is so rare for me. Usually lunch kills them off.
Tuesday: Christmas Eve – Tortellini and spinach soup, cream cheese stuffed mushrooms, bread and cookies for dessert while opening presents.
Wednesday: Christmas Day – Breakfast Spinach and mushroom eggbake and toasted pane tuscano.
Lunch: Antipasto tray.
Dinner: Lamb chops, potatoes gratin, green beans w/ roasted tomatoes. Tiramisu for dessert.
Thursday; Baked polenta (leftover from last week), steak, and brussels
Friday: Easy day ???
Saturday Freezer soup.

Ideas for next week are sloppy janes, pork and bulgar casserole, and lasagna. I write them down at the bottom or I will forget them.
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Stuffed mushrooms with Bacon and Olive (adapted from Bon Appetit)

4 slices bacon, cooked or 2 tablespoons real bacon bits
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
2 ounces cream cheese room temp.
sprinkle of garlic powder

Crumple up you bacon and put bacon, cream cheese, olives, and garlic powder in bowl. Mix this up well.

Clean mushrooms and pull out the stems. I do about 8 or so but am generous with the filling Save the stems for something else. Stuff the mushrooms sprinkle paprika over them. Cook at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Weekly Menu 12-15-13 and Chicken Caccatoire Recipe

Let me tell you a secret, I don’t always make the scheduled meal on the scheduled day. You can change the day you make something. I do it all the time. If you are tired or short on time and that new recipe you want to try is too much that day…

You do not have to stick completely to the plan, change it around or even change what you are making on a day. Don’t be afraid to change it up if you need to. Last week got all re-arranged to better fit my week.

Sunday – Chicken Cacciatore with polenta
Monday – Russian beef and black rice
Tuesday – Costco, something very easy ???
Wednesday – Spaghetti and meatballs
Thursday – chicken and stuffing (freezer), winter squash
Friday – Easy – turkey burgers, oven fires, veg.
Saturday – Stir fry, chicken

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Chicken Cacciatore
3 to 4 pounds of chicken thighs (skinless, boneless, your choice)
Brown chicken in about 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary and sage
Add to pot and cook for about five minutes, onions will soften up.

Add 1 clove minced garlic sauté for about 30 seconds and add
1/2 cup wine, I use what’s open.

8 to 14 oz. tomatoes chopped
3/4 cup water or chicken stock.
Bring to boil and than reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes with lid on.

Add 1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/2 cup slice mushrooms
Cook ten minutes with lid off and let reduce.

I didn’t have any mushrooms, so I left them out.

Weekly Menu 12-8-13 and Pumpkin Gnocchi Gratin

Some weeks its so easy to create a weekly menu and others its like pulling teeth. Thankfully this week was somewhere in between. Its still on the cold side here but no negatives, wahoo! FYI if a meal has a notation of freezer it means it was in the freezer waiting to be cooked up or reheated and than consumed.
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I do a lot of big batch cooking and freezing of food. Because somedays we just don’t want to cook or don’t’ have time and need a quick and easy meal. Plus I don’t want you thinking I am whipping up meatballs and such on the fly.

Sunday – Swedish meatballs (freezer), mashed red potatoes, roasted brussels
Monday – Pork and sausage ragu, pasta, pane tuscano
Tuesday – Pork quesdillas, Mexican rice. (pork and rice from freezer)
Wednesday – Beef and Butternut squash stew, rolls
Thursday- Dad’s birthday dinner: Steak, pumpkin gnocchi (freezer), and roasted tomatoes (freezer), and chocolate cake
Friday – Easy Day, maybe burgers?
Saturday – Beef and Lentil Soup, bread.

Pumpkin Gnocchi Gratin

Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can or 2 cups chicken broth
pinch salt
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour; cook 30 seconds. Add wine and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until thick. Stir in a pinch of salt. Remove from heat; set aside.

Gnocchi
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix 1 3/4 cups flour, pumpkin puree, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir well to form a smooth dough. It will be sticky. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape dough into strips, I find small ropes easier to work with than long ones. Cut each strip into 12 (1-inch) pieces. Press each piece of dough with a lightly floured fork. Place gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet; set aside. I never do the fork part, I’m too lazy. For freezing I freeze them flat on a baking sheet and than put them into a bag when frozen.

Bring water to boil in a large Dutch oven. Add half of gnocchi; cook 3 minutes or until it floats Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon; place in a colander. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. If it is frozen this takes a bit longer, you do not thaw frozen gnocchi just dump it in the water frozen.

Topping
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
Put on top and bake at 450 for 15 20 minutes.
I often make this ahead of time and keep in the fridge until dinner. I cook it at 400 with foil on top for 15 minutes and than top with cheese and cook another 10 to 15 minutes.

And I totally forget to take a picture last night. *bangs head* Next week I will remember.

Weekly Menu 12-2-13

I was going to start this segment in the New Year and decided frack it, let’s get it going now! Just what is this new segment? Why has she not told us yet? Here it is the Weekly Menu post. My vision of this is to help you all get started planning your own weekly menus by sharing mine and a recipe each week. Yes, you will be seeing what we eat each week and yes, there will be repeats on those menus.
 photo DSCF2003-3.jpgFriday has been the Weekly Groove post which is getting changed to a monthly thing. I like it but sometimes I feel like it can be a bit sparse and getting people cooking is something I am extremely passionate about.

Its a sbiwy (aka snowy) day here, the kind of day that lends its self well to big pots of food, baking, and lounging about reading or writing with a cup of coffee. This week’s menu is heavy on Italian food and hamburger, just how it happened.

Sunday – Pork and Hominy soup from the freezer and cornbread
Monday – Pizza!
Tuesday Bolognese and pasta
Wednesday – Meatloaf
Thursday – Tasty beef casserole
Friday – Easy day, French dip sandwiches and sweet potato fries
Saturday – Chicken and wild rice soup, pumpkin rolls

Simple Big Batch Bolognese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 to 2 onions, diced
1 cup celery chopped
1 1/2 cups carrots chopped
1 to 5 cloves of garlic chopped
2 pounds hamburger or ground turkey
1 cup wine
1 to 3 tablespoons dried basil or fresh
1 to 3 tablespoons dried parsley or fresh
1 to 2 bay leaves
12 cups of tomatoes that’s 1 number 10 can or oz.
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Heat pot and put oil in it. Add diced onion and cook until softened. Chop the celery and add it to the pot and do the same with the carrots. While they cook chop up your garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the ground meat in and brown. Add wine cook for a few minutes and add herbs and tomatoes. Simmer for 2 hours on low, stirring occasionally.

I add the veg as I chop them, you want to start building your flavour layers at this point in time. I usually add some herbs but if you don’t its okay. You are looking at about a half hour to an hour prep time depending on your knife skills, they will get better and you will get faster. This cooks for a long time but you can do other things while it simmers, just give it a twirl now and then. I get 4 to 5 quarts.