Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fajita Marinade (S)

I love Mexican food! I could eat it every single day of my life. I love getting fajitas at a restaurant, but hate the price tag that comes with them. This marinade is what I came up with to duplicate the flavor of restaurant style fajitas. It is great on chicken, beef (not ground) or shrimp as well as vegetables. I typically use onions and green peppers, but zucchini or summer squash would be great too.

This recipe is enough to marinate 4 chicken breasts, 2 bell peppers and 3 onions. If I'm using steak I usually use 2 pounds, and usually a flank steak. I serve this on a low-carb tortilla or on top of lettuce with sour cream, salsa and cheese.

(Beef broth not pictured)

Pin it for later.

Fajita Marinade
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 t. grated lime rind (make sure not to get any of pith (the white stuff under the rind) because it tastes bitter)
  • 2 1/2 T. fresh lime juice
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cumin (if you don't love the flavor of cumin back it down to 1 t.)
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. oregano
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 c. low-sodium beef broth or stock
  1. Whisk all ingredients together.
  2. Pour over meat and vegetables and let marinate for a minimum of 4 hours. Overnight is best to really let the flavors soak in.

***Do not marinate meat and vegetables in the same container. This leads to cross contamination. If you are using more than one variety of meat, put them in separate containers as well.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: 12/30/13-1/5/14

Wondering why or how to meal plan? Read this first.

Happy New Year!!! I feel like I say this every year, but I can't believe how fast this year has flown by. This year has been marked by a blessing of our 4th child, as well as many changes for our family. I'm excited to see what 2014 will bring. One of my goals for 2014 is to try one new recipe each week, so I'm on the search for yummy things to try.

Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Monday - Chicken and black bean burrito bowls with salsa, Spanish rice and sauteed green peppers and onions

Tuesday - New Year's Eve pizza party - I'm bringing the dough and pizza sauce

Wednesday - Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili

Thursday - Sloppy Joes with fresh veggies

Friday - Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables

Saturday - Chicken Noodle Soup

Sunday - Leftovers

Here's what's coming up this week:
  •  Fajita style marinade - great on chicken, beef and veggies!
  • Kitchen Tip - creative way to drain the fat from ground beef

Monday, December 23, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Caramel Corn

My mom does NOT like to cook or bake, and she will be the first one to tell you. The love of cooking skipped a generation in our family. However, my mom makes some rockin' caramel corn. It isn't something that she makes very often, but boy when she does the whole family enjoys it. She usually makes it around the holidays and will give some as a gift to my grandparents, and then we eat the rest. :) This is definitely an indulgent snack, but just do it, it's the holidays. It is so good people! You MUST try it!

Marcia's Caramel Corn
  • 8 quarts popped popcorn
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 c. corn syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cream of tarter
  • 1 t. baking soda
  1. Pop the popcorn. Air popped is best, but if you have a kettle cooker (like myself), just use 1 T. oil, no salt or butter, while popping.
  2. Heat the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and pinch of salt in a small sauce pan until it boils. Let it boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  3. Add the baking soda and stir until completely combined.
  4. Pour over the popcorn. Let it cool slightly before eating. Store in an air tight container.
***If you like nuts in your caramel corn, you can add some peanuts or another nut of your liking to the popcorn before you pour the liquid mixture on top of it.

Meal Plan Monday - 12/23-12/29/13

Wondering why or how to meal plan? Read this first.

We made it! It's finally the week of Christmas. I love this time of year and all the memories that are made. We had family visit this past weekend and we'll be spending Christmas day with my parents and my brother and his family. My kids are completely amped up!

We are spending quite a bit of the week with family, so this week's meal plan is very simple. Here is what we'll be eating this week:

Monday - Easy Slow Cooker Chili

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday - Lasagna with 7 Layer Salad (look for the recipe later this week), and garlic bread (This is a very non-traditional Christmas dinner, but it's what my mom wanted to eat.)

Thursday - Egg Roll in a Bowl (This was so good last week that my hubby requested it again this week. Seriously, try it, it's AMAZING!!!)

Friday - Homemade Pizza  with fresh veggies

Saturday - Ham, cheesy potatoes, salad and rolls

Sunday -  Leftovers

Merry Christmas to you and your family! Have a great week and happy eating!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: Food Processor

Today's Favorite Thing Friday is truly one of my most favorite things that I use in my kitchen. It has so many functions and capabilities I'm not sure what I ever did before I owned my food processor.

I personally have the Cuisinart  Prep 11 Plus 11 Cup Food Processor. It comes with four different blades: stainless steel medium slicing disc, stainless steel shredding disc, metal dough blade and a chopping/mixing blade. I feel like I'm am continually finding new uses for it.

Here are the top ten ways I use my food processor:
  1. Shredding cheese - I can literally shred an entire block of cheese in under 30 seconds. Sounds like a party trick, right?? I love the texture so much more of freshly shredded cheese vs. pre-shredded bought from the store. And seriously, what is that white crap that they put on the pre-shredded cheese? Grosses me out!
  2. Pureeing vegetables for making baby food - Super easy and you can make it super smooth for a younger baby, or leave it a little chunky for an older child.
  3. Making salsa - I make this salsa almost every single week. After throwing everything in, it takes about 10 seconds to get the consistency I want.
  4. Pureeing soups - I don't have a great blender, so I use my food processor instead.
  5. Shredding potatoes for hash browns - beats the pre-frozen potatoes any day, and is cheaper just to shred them yourself.
  6. Shredding carrots and zucchini - I shred a bunch at a time for soups or stir-fry, and just freeze what I'm not using. 
  7. Shredding soap - I've started making my own laundry soap and liquid hand soap. Both require shredding a bar of soap, and I can do it in less than 30 seconds this way. Now before anyone freaks out and thinks its gross to shred soap in the same thing I use for food prep, I wash it EXTREMELY well after I shred the soap.
  8. Slicing meat - We don't eat a lot of deli meat in our house, but when the sticks of pepperoni are on sale for cheaper than the pre-sliced variety, I will slice my own. You definitely could slice lunch meat out of a chub of ham or turkey as well.
  9. Making hummus - in the last year I've grown to love hummus, and it is so easy to make at home. Try this recipe for a basic hummus.
  10. In place of a pastry cutter - when I am making a recipe that instructs me to use a pastry cutter to cut the butter in, I use the food processor instead. Not only can you do it quickly, but by using the pulse function you won't take it too far and over process it.
If you don't own a food processor you should. It will make your life in the kitchen so much more simple. If you have any great uses that I haven't listed, be sure to leave them in the comments below.
Stainless steel medium slicing disc (4 mm)
Stainless steel shredding disc
Chopping/mixing blade
Metal dough blade - See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/products/food_processors/dlc-2011chb.html#sthash.2wZWdrd1.dpuf

Monday, December 16, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Grandma's Christmas Sugar Cookies

When I was a little girl my Grandma would come and visit a few weeks before Christmas to make cookies with my brother and me. She would always bring all the goodies needed and always brought an old work shirt of my Grandpa's to wear; so we wouldn't ruin our own clothes of course. It wasn't Christmas until Grandma had come to bake cookies. I have such fond memories of this time, and now it is a tradition that has been passed on to my kids to do with my Mom.

This past weekend we made cookies, new memories and plenty of messes. And of course the kids were completely sugar buzzed. That's half the fun, right?

These cookies are great for cutting shapes out of. They work fine for just making drop cookies as well. It's a very versatile cookie.

                                                     (I love the how the kids decorate!)

Grandma's Christmas Sugar Cookies
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. sour milk (add 1 T. of white vinegar to the milk to make it sour)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4-1/2 t. salt
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  1. Cream the sugar and shortening together. You can do by hand or with an electric hand mixer.
  2. Add the egg and mix again.
  3. Pour the 1/2 c. of milk into a 1 c. glass measuring cup. Add the 1 T. of white vinegar and the 1 t. of baking soda to the milk. Stir to combine and then add to the dough mixture.
  4. Add the baking powder, salt and flour to the mixture and mix until completely combined. 
  5. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Roll out dough onto a well floured surface. Cut into desired shapes.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  9. Let the cookies completely cool before you decorate them.

Meal Plan Monday: 12/16-12/22/13

Wondering why or how to meal plan? Read this first.

The countdown to Christmas is on. I'm not even remotely ready, but I still have 9 whole days right?? I'm totally procrastinating this year. This past weekend my kids and their cousins, along with my Mom made Christmas cookies. It was fun and slightly stressful but we made them and they are delicious. Look for that recipe later tonight.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: Egg roll in a bowl

Tuesday: Bacon, Cheddar, chicken and rice bake with broccoli

Wednesday: Spaghetti with salad and French bread

Thursday: Salsa chicken casserole

Friday: Homemade pizza with fresh veggies

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Chicken quinoa soup

Here's what is coming up on the blog this week:
  • Countdown to Christmas: Grandma's Christmas Sugar Cookies
  • Favorite thing Friday

Monday, December 9, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: 12/9-12/15/13

Wondering how or why to meal plan? Read this first.

If you're like me, your calendar is filling up with Christmas parties and activities. I love this time of year and all of the gatherings that happen. I'm always so excited to go to parties and try the variety of foods that people bring. 

Here is what we'll be eating this week:

Monday - Lasagna Roll-ups with a side salad

Tuesday - Chicken burrito bowls, with black beans,  sauteed green peppers and onions, Spanish rice and salsa

Wednesday - Easy Slow Cooker Chili with corn bread

Thursday - Simple Sesame Noodles with stir-fried chicken and broccoli

Friday - Christmas Party - I will be bringing Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (the recipe is in the comments section)

Saturday - Homemade Pizza with fresh veggies

Sunday - Christmas Party #2 - I will be bringing a veggie tray

Have a great week and happy eating!!!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: Cookbooks

I love cookbooks. The recipes, photos, techniques and new ideas that are in them speak to my creative side. Every time I enter a  bookstore or library I immediately go to the cookbook section. Now I realize that not everyone has such a draw to cookbooks, so I've compiled a list of my four favorites.

Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book - This is full of tried and true recipes. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and very good. I've loved everything I've ever tried from this book. I also have a sentimental attachment to this one. My Grandma F. gave me this cookbook at my bridal shower with a sweet message written in the cover. She also sparked my interest in cooking at young age, so this is definitely a book I will cherish and hold on to.

Dining on  Dime - This book is a great resource to have. There are so many money saving tips, recipes for everything under the sun, including homemade cleaners, and filled with food that your family will actually eat. I reference this book frequently and enjoy using the recipes to make things from scratch. It's amazing how much money you can save if you're willing to put in just a little bit of time and effort.

Joy of Cooking - Talk about the mother of all cookbooks! With over 4500 recipes you're bound to find something for everyone in this cookbook. Not only is filled with a plethora of recipes, but it has tips for entertaining, menus by cuisine, measurement equivalent and substitution charts and so much more. This is definitely a book you want to add to your collection!

The Pioneer Woman Cooks - If you're looking for some down home good cooking this is your book. Ree Drummond (a.k.a. Pioneer Woman) makes some awesome food! Her cookbook is loaded with yummy recipes, really neat photography of her family's cattle ranch and sprinkled with a dose of humor as well. Everything I've ever tried from her has been delicious! She also has a great website loaded with recipes.

Add some of these books to your Christmas list. Your family will thank you later!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to Tuesday: Roasting Vegetables

Roasting vegetables is such an easy and flavorful way to enjoy eating vegetables. It also is a great way to use up random veggies you might have laying around in your refrigerator.

The best types of vegetables to roast are: potatoes (any variety, but my favorite are red), broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, carrots, onions (any variety), celery, parsnips, turnips, zucchini and summer squash. These vegetables are hearty enough to stand up to long cook times in the oven without becoming mushy and gross.

The key to roasting vegetables that are not mushy is cutting everything the same size. This way things will cook evenly. Also, DO NOT under season the vegetables. Bland vegetables = gross!

Layer all the vegetables in one single layer. If you find your baking sheet is too crowded then use two. Some vegetables will come out crunchy while others will be mushy if they are too crowded.

Look at those yummy vegetables, all nicely roasted. The flavors have developed and they are nice and tender, NOT squishy.

Roasted Vegetables (this is the amount I prepare for my family of 6 without leftovers)
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 3 small florets of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and then chopped
  • garlic powder, Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil, enough to coat the vegetables
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Chop all vegetables into even sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Liberally season with garlic powder, Kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the vegetables. DO NOT drown the vegetables in the oil.
  2. Place them in one single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring once. The vegetables should be tender.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: 12/2-12/8/13

Wondering how or why to meal plan? Read this first.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday. We had a great day just relaxing, enjoying family and eating wonderful food. I'm totally maxed out on turkey for a while, and thankfully our leftovers are nearly gone.My husband and I also had a great time celebrating our 10th anniversary!

Here is what we'll be eating this week:

Monday: Taco salads (using ground beef and black beans)

Tuesday: Sweet and Spicy Chicken Stir-fry over brown rice and with broccoli and cauliflower

Wednesday: Baked Ziti (I'm going to omit the ground beef and add spinach. Hopefully my family will still eat it.) with side salad

Thursday: Grilled chicken with Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon and Parmesan cheese

Friday: Homemade Pizza with fresh veggies

Saturday: Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Sunday: Leftovers

Here's what is coming up on the blog this week:
  • How to roast vegetables (Was supposed to do this last week but never got around to it!)
  • Week 3 in our "Count down to Christmas" treat series
  • Favorite thing Friday
Have a great week and happy eating!