Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Roasted Chicken Breasts

I mentioned in an earlier post that I like to cook up large amounts of meat and freeze meal-size portions for later use.

Here's how I do chicken -- I have the "Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten from the Food Network to thank for this recipe. You save money by using the bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and the meat is more flavorful.

Roasted Chicken Breasts

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through.

Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice or shred. You will have 4 to 6 cups of chicken. Divide into amounts you will need for meals, wrap and freeze.

When ready to use frozen chicken, thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours for best results.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Citrusy Apple Cobbler

I'm slowly making my way through a ton of apples that my grandparents gave us. Here's a recipe that I adapted from Taste of Home. The orange juice adds depth to the flavor of the dish. I increased the size of the recipe and decided to take a short cut and use Bisquick. I'm all about short cuts!

If you prefer not to use the short cut, just follow the original recipe, substituting shortening for the butter and rice milk for the milk.

Citrusy Apple Cobbler

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 cups sliced peeled tart apples (about 6 large)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups MSPI-friendly baking mix
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine, melted
3/4 cup rice milk

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add apples and orange juice; toss to coat. Transfer to an 9-in. x 13-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray.

For topping, mix together the baking mix, sugar, margarine and rice milk. Drop mounds of the mixture on top of the apples.

Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and apple mixture is bubbly.

Sweet and Sour Country Ribs

This recipe from Everyday Food magazine is currently cooking away in my slow cooker. It was a snap to throw together -- it only took a few minutes.

The country-style ribs I used were frozen solid, so I'm planning to adjust the cooking time just a little to compensate for that.

This is such a cheap meal! I got the ribs on sale back in July for 99 cents a pound, and I'm going to get two family meals (plus leftovers) out of this!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Freezer French Toast

This looks like a great way to make French toast without dirtying a ton of dishes every time you get a craving. Instead, make one big batch, freeze it and heat pieces when you like. A toaster oven would make this even easier! I wish I had a toaster oven, but -- alas! -- no counter space!

The recipe is adapted from the Freezer Supper Swappers.

Freezer French Toast

4 eggs
1 cup rice milk
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
10 slices MSPI-friendly, day-old French bread (3/4 inch thick)
1 to 2 tbsp. margarine, melted

In a large bowl, beat eggs, rice milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Place bread in a well-greased
13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Pour egg mixture over bread. Let soak for several minutes, turning once to coat. Freeze until firm. Package in Ziploc bags.

To bake, place bread on a well-greased baking sheet. Dot with margarine. Bake at 450° for 7 minutes; turn and bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chicken and Black Bean Chili

With fall officially here, my cooking takes a turn ... for the freezer. A ton of cold weather foods -- soups, stews, casseroles -- lend themselves nicely to freezer cooking. I usually make a double recipe of something, feed my family one and then freeze the other for later use. It's so convenient to have a well-stocked freezer!

Plus, my bestest girlfriend, Tina, is about to pop out baby No. 3 and is busily stocking her own freezer with meals for his/her arrival. Tina's daughter, Kimberly, can't have milk and all their family meals are dairy free, so she is a regular reader/contributor to this blog!

So, Tina, I'm posting this puppy (and others to follow) for you ... Love ya! ;)

This recipe comes from the Freezer Supper Swappers.

Chicken and Black Bean Chili

1 - 15 oz. can black beans, drained
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 cup yellow onions, diced
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tbsp. chili powder
1/4 cup (or to taste) canned jalapenos, drained and sliced

Combine all ingredients in freezer-safe container and freeze. When ready to cook it, thaw in fridge overnight.

Oven preparation: Preheat oven to 325. Spray one 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Add chili. Bake pan covered for 2 hours.

Slow cooker preparation: Turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 5-6 hours.

Stove top preparation: Place in stockpot and simmer the chili over low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring often until thickened.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fusilli in Broccoli and Pine Nut Sauce

I love broccoli, pine nuts, basil and pasta. This Associated Press recipe I found recently in the newspaper has all four!

Fusilli in Broccoli and Pine Nut Sauce

1 head broccoli (about 1 1/4 lb.)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
12 oz. whole-wheat fusilli pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Ground black pepper, to taste

Separate the broccoli florets from the stalks. Chop the florets into small pieces and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the tough outer skin from the stalks. Cut the peeled stalks into 1-inch chunks.

In a medium saucepan, combine the garlic, salt and water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli stalks, reduce heat, cover and simmer until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer the broccoli stalks, garlic and cooking liquid to a food processor. Add the pine nuts and olive oil, then process until smooth (use caution when pureeing hot liquids).

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until nearly tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the reserved broccoli florets and continue cooking until the pasta and broccoli are tender, about another 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the sauce and chopped basil, then toss well. Season with black pepper.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Pan Sautéed Chicken with Vegetables & Herbs

Here's a fairly simple recipe from Campbell's Kitchens that would be perfect for a crisp fall night. As always, be sure you use MSPI-friendly chicken stock.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cranberry Apple Tart

It's apple season around here, and I'm constantly looking for new recipes that utilize the fruit. I've got a huge box of apples sitting in my basement, thanks to my grandparents' overflowing tree.

My friend Laura passed on this recipe to me. She found the original recipe (from the Associate Press) in the newspaper. It looks fabulous! Can't wait to try it. Thanks, Laura!

Cranberry Apple Tart

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes
Makes two 10-inch tarts

1 ball MSPI-friendly prepared pizza dough, room temperature
8 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine (1 stick)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup packed brown sugar
8 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup dried cranberries

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

On a lightly floured counter, divide the dough in two. Use a rolling pin to roll out each piece of dough into a 10-inch circle about ¼-inch thick. Transfer the crusts to the prepared baking sheet (you may need to use 2 sheets). Set aside.

Place the margarine in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until melted. Mix in the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and brown sugar. Use a pastry brush to coat both crusts with some of the margarine mixture; reserve the remaining margarine.

Arrange half of the apple slices over each crust, then brush the apples with the remaining margarine. Sprinkle half of the cranberries over each tart. Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the apples are tender. Let cool before serving.

*** For a nice finish, dust the tart with powdered sugar, or a blend of powdered sugar and cinnamon.

*** The dried cranberries can be soaked in water or juice for 15 minutes before using. This isn’t necessary, but it makes them plump and juicy. Be sure to drain them well before placing them on the tarts.

***One recipe of pizza dough is enough for this recipe.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Creole Black Beans

My friend Holly does once-a-month cooking -- she has four little girls; once-a-month cooking is a necessity! She recently posted this recipe to her Once a Month Yumminess blog. Not only is the recipe once-a-month cooking, it's also a slow cooker recipe. Super easy!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pasta Fagioli

This soup brings back memories from college. My sorority's house cook used to cook this up and serve it in bread bowls. Comfort food at its best!

The recipe below was adapted from Sweet Savory Southern. It's simmering away on my stove as I type this. The house smells divine! We've been experiencing some fall-like weather the past few days, so I can't wait to curl up with a bowl of this and some garlic bread.

This recipe makes a gigantic batch of soup! Either be prepared to freeze part of it or halve the recipe. If you do freeze the soup, make sure you let it thaw completely in the refrigerator prior to reheating, or the pasta will turn to mush!

For a vegetarian version, skip the sausage and add more beans and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth.

Pasta Fagioli

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 16 oz. pkg. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
½ large (or 1 medium) onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
64 oz. beef broth
28 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. dried parsley (or 1 tbsp. fresh parsley)
1/2 tsp. dried basil (or 1 tsp. fresh basil)
4 oz. small dry pasta

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat, and brown the sausage, crumbling it as it cooks. Once brown, remove sausage from pot with a slotted spoon.

In the same pot, add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and salt, and saute over medium heat until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add sausage back to the pot and the can of diced tomatoes (do not drain), stir briefly, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the beans, and add the beef broth and tomato sauce. Add in all of the seasonings, stir well, turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn down to low heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Add the dry pasta and continue to simmer on low for another 30 minutes.