Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gotta Use Them Pumpkin Seeds

It's that time again, Halloween is actually tomorrow and everyone is carving pumpkins.  I have had at least 3 people ask me recently if I have a recipe to make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.  So here's for all you carvers looking to not waste those seeds!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 1/2 C. Pumpkin Seeds
1 Tbsp. Butter or Margarine
1 1/2 tsp. Salt or Garlic Salt
Any other seasonings if you're feeling adventurous (Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Cajun Seasoning, etc)

1. Boil seeds in pretty salty water for 20 mins.  Drain and lay out on a sheet for 24 hours to dry out.
2. Set oven to 300 degrees.
3. Melt butter, add to seeds and seasonings in a bowl, mix well.
4. Spread on 1-2 cookie sheets making SURE that it's flat layer with no overlaps to ensure the baking.
5. Cook for 45 mins stirring occasionally.
6. Let them cool and TADA! Snack time!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Real Mashed Potatoes?!

In all honesty, how many people eat real mashed potatoes anymore.  While potatoes are literally dirt cheap, they spoil instead of sit in a pantry so people don't carry them as often.  I grew up on Potato Pearls and I swore by them as a kid.  I loved the buttery taste.  But these days I don't eat anything but real potatoes, none of that canned or boxed stuff. (no offense to the food storage, I'll still keep some there)  I think everyone should splurge for real mashed potatoes more frequently than holidays!  *Side note, we don't normally eat gravy in our house, so I season my potatoes to give them some attitude*

Scary's Mashed Potatoes
*serves 3-5

2-4 Russet Potatoes (depending on size)
1 Pot full of Water
Season Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, touch of chili powder, to taste
1/2 C. Shredded Cheese
1/4 C. Butter or Margarine
1/4ish C. Milk

1. Wash your potatoes, peel them if you don't like the skin.  I think that's the best part!
2. Dice potatoes, the smaller, the faster they'll cook.
3. Add potatoes to water, bring to boil and cook at med-hi heat until they are soft enough to squish against the side of the pot.
4. Drain and return to pot.
5.  Start mashing and add butter and milk.
6. Add seasonings to taste along with the cheese.  Mix well til the cheese is melted.  Constantly taste the potatoes to see what balance you like with the spices.
7. Serve with dinner!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bread Crumbs for Any Dish

I have come across a handful of recipes that require bread crumbs and they don't normally sell them at an inexpensive price in stores.  This is an easy fix with a loaf of bread or ends of loaves for your household!  Bread crumbs freeze really well and last for about 6 months.

Bread Crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 275.
2. Take any pieces of bread, ends, whole loaf, rolls, etc and lay directly on the oven rack.
3. Turn them over after 15 mins.  Bake for another 10-15 mins.
4. Put the pieces in a food processor 2 or 3 at a time and blend to make your crumbs!

*You can get super creative and add all kinds of fun seasonings for different occasions!

Cajun Grilled Tacos

As my posting history shows, we eat a lot of Mexican food in our house.  We like it spicy and usually south of the border!  Here we have a twist on normal tacos.  You might compare them to Chipotle (fast food chain) tacos, but I've never had them before.  The rice is however inspired by Chipotle even if it tastes nothing like it. :)

Cajun Grilled Chicken Tacos
*serves 2-4

1-2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (depending on size) (Slice in half so the breast is thinner)
1 batch of  Scary's Bean Dip
1 C. Long Grain Rice
1 3/4 C. Water
1/3 C. Finely Chopped Cilantro
1 Tbsp. Butter or Margarine
1/2 Lime (juiced)
1 pack Fajita size Tortillas (I am a HUGE fan of Guerrero tortillas for ALL my tortilla needs)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Cajun Seasoning to taste
Favorite salsa on top

1. Add water, butter, and rice in a heavy pot.  Bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling, bring heat down to medium.  Cover the pot mostly with room for steam to escape.
3. Pull out the chicken, slice in half to make thinner filets that grill faster.  Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little heavier on the cajun seasoning.
4. Check the rice, once it starts forming craters from the bubbling, cover it completely and turn down to low heat.  Cook for about 15 mins.
5. Throw the ingredients for the bean dip in a pot and turn it on med.  Stirring occasionally.
6.  Start grilling one breast at a time.  Put them on a plate in the microwave (or you could warm your oven if you'd like) to keep them warm.
7. Once the bean dip is thoroughly melted and done, you can put aside.
8. Check the rice to make sure that all the water is absorbed.  Once this is done, stir in the lime juice and the cilantro.
9. Cut the chicken into thin strips. (or dice as I did here)
10. Assemble the taco starting with the bean dip, followed by the rice, then the chicken and then salsa to top it off!

Chicken Parm Bites

Growing up I was never a fan of Chicken Parmesan whatsoever.  Chicken and marinara just grossed me out.  Today, I've grown out of it! YAY!  These are fun handheld bites to switch things up at the dinner table!

Chicken Parm Bites
*serves 2-3

1 Can 8 pack of Biscuits (I only had crescent handy at the time)
1-2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (depending on size) (shred or dice very small)
3/4 C. Favorite Marinara Sauce
1/3 C. Shredded Parmesan (or the grated parmesan out of the green container)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Italian Seasonings
1 Egg (beaten)

1. Boil chicken for 45 mins.  Cut up or shred.  Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
2. Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a 6X9 pyrex pan with non stick spray.
3. Get everything ready to go, pull out the biscuits.  Flatten them one at a time to about 1/8"
4. Put a small handful of chicken in the middle. (again, mine are funny shaped because they were crescent rolls)
5. Sprinkle the parmesan on the chicken and then add a small spoonful of marinara sauce.
6. Gather the edges and press together.  This is a difficult part because you don't want the bottom to be too thick or it won't cook thoroughly.
7. Place in the pan with the open end down.  Repeat until you have all 8 made. (or however many you're making)
8. Once they are all done, brush the tops with the beaten egg.  Sprinkle italian seasonings and some grated parmesan on top.
9. Bake for 20-25 mins. The dough can be a little less done in some places depending on how evenly you rolled them out.  The tops should be golden brown.
10.  Serve up with a side of marinara sauce to dip in.

Subtle BBQ Marinade

I tend to be pretty picky about my flavors on chicken.  I've tried store bought marinades and I like one or two but I decided to try my hand in making my own to play with.  This is tough for me as we don't actually own a grill at the moment.  (we live in a STUPID apartment complex and can't have one)  So, we deal with a mini George Foreman grill.  All of my grilling recipes are usually made for either one.  I was looking for a spicy, sweet, and subtle taste and I stumbled across it while just dumping things in a bowl!  I can only encourage people to be creative.  That's where half of my recipes come from, me just making stuff up.

Subtle BBQ Marinade

*enough for 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Allergen Tips:
Double check your bbq label to ensure you have a gluten free dish!
Balsalmic vinegar is also safely on the g-free list :)

1/4 C. Olive Oil
1/2 C. Spicy BBQ Sauce (we use Bill Johnson's and swear by it!)
2 tsp. Balsalmic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Garlic (minced)
2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1/8 C. Water
1/3 C Onion (chopped)

*If ACTUALLY grilling, you may want to set aside just a bit of the marinade to brush on while grilling!*

1. I like to cut my chicken breasts in half so they are thinner and easier to grill to perfection.  Put them (in whatever state you like) in a ziploc bag.
2. Chop up your onion and put in the bag with the chicken.
3. In a bowl, mix all other ingredients.  Mix well with a whisk.
4. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the bag.
5. Marinade for at least 5 hours or freeze for a later date.
6. Grill Chicken to your liking and enjoy!

Parmesan Chicken Tenders

I'm always on board for cooking in the oven to avoid grease and fat!  These are "adult" tenders but kids would love them too!  Serve these up with your favorite dipping sauce.  My favorite is spicy barbeque. :)

Parmesan Chicken Tenders
*Serves 2-3

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut in half width wise and then cut into strips)
1/4 C. Butter
1 Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
1 tsp. Garlic Powder (separated into 1/2 and 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp. Season Salt (separated into 1/2 and 1/2 tsp)
1/2 C. Bread Crumbs (I make my own from a 9 grain loaf but any bread crumbs will do)
1/4 C. Parmesan (I prefer fresh shredded parmesan, but you can use the processed stuff in the green container)
1/2 tsp. Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Get a cookie sheet (cover with tinfoil for easy clean up) and put a cooling rack on top of it. (this ensures it cooks on both sides evenly)

*FUN FACT* I tend to use a cooling rack a lot on top of a cookie sheet for cooking.  Easy clean up on the cooling rack, turn it upside down on the cookie sheet and soak with soap and hot water! No more stuck on food!!!

2. Cut up the chicken into small strips, or squares if you prefer but try to keep them fairly thin.  (like 8 total pieces from a breast, 4 on top and 4 on bottom)
3. Melt butter in a small bowl and add the minced garlic, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp of season salt.
4. Add bread crumbs, parmesan, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp season salt, and the pepper in a separate bowl.
5. Dip the chicken in the butter concoction and then smother in the bread crumb.  Lay each piece on the cooling rack one at a time with plenty of room between them.
6. Cook 35-40 mins and serve with sauce and sides!  These also make great leftovers!

*My favorites to serve are my homemade mashed potatoes and green beans

Carne Asada with a Citrus Twist

I don't like to settle on one marinade when it comes to meat.  I like to play around with them here and there until I tweak it just enough to make it perfect.  This marinade for carne asada has a tangy lime flavor with a hint of heat in the spices!

Carne Asada Marinade
*for about 3lbs

3lbs Thinly Sliced Flank Steak (You can usually buy it pre-sliced from the store)
4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
1/2 C. Cilantro
1 Bell Pepper
1 Small Onion
2 Limes (juiced)
1/3 C. Orange Juice
1/4 C. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Cumin
1 Tbsp. Pepper
1/2 C. Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Chili Powder (use 2 Tbsp. for more of a kick)

1. Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Mix until close to smooth.
2. Pour over carne asada meat, in a bowl or ziploc bag.
3. Marinade for 48 hours (or you can freeze for later) *I usually make it in two half batches one for now and one for later.
4. Grill (or pan sear) to a medium well.  Keep in mind that this meat is SUPER thin and you don't want to over cook it.

 (Sorry it's blurry! This is after I've grilled them.  I'm keeping them in the skillet with a lid to keep them warm.)
5. Once cooked, cut up into small 1/4" squares and serve in burritos, tacos, or put it on nachos!