Monthly Archives: February 2012

Chicken Enchilades

Standard
Chicken Enchilades

We love Mexican food, but often it can seem a little heavy. I found this recipe several years ago and changed it a little to suit our tastes. Part of what I like about it is that it can be made low fat quite easily. Someday I want to substitute plain greek yogurt for the sour cream and see how it turns out.

INGREDIENTS:
10 Flour Tortillas
3 c Cooked Chicken
1 pound Favorite Melting Cheese such as Monterey, Pepper Jack or Mexican Cheese

Filler Sauce:
2 c Sour Cream
1 medium Onion Diced and Sauteed
1 bunch Fresh Cilantro
1 Tb Cumin

Topping Sauce
1 c Sour Cream
1/2 c Chicken Broth
1/2 c Salsa Verde

Remove the leaves from the cilantro as best you can. You can leave the smaller stems but the thick ones can be a little hard and noticeable in the end product. I push all the leaves into a big pile and roll up, then chop it up. This is much faster and prevents bruising to the leaves.

You may have noticed that I try to be as frugal as possible and generally am not a brand follower. There are some items that I am careful about what I buy, sour cream falls into that category. There is only 1 major brand I purchase and that is Daisy, the only generic is from Wal Mart. The reason is because of the listed ingredients on the container. Look on the vast majority of brands and the ingredient list is 10 or more items, most of which I have no clue how to pronounce . Compare that to the Daisy brand as you can see below that really is much more simple, just cream. (I apologize for the photo, it did not seem so blurry on my camera.)

Combine the onions, sour cream, cilantro and cumin and set aside as the filler sauce.

In a separate container combine the sour cream, salsa verde and chicken broth as the topping sauce.

Sauces

Before you start to roll your enchiladas, the tortillas need to be warm. If they are cold they tend to crack. Either lay them on the counter till they are room temperature, or warm in the microwave for a few seconds. Another option is to wrap in tin foil and place in the oven at 300 while you are mixing the sauces. Lay out the warmed tortillas and evenly distribute the filler sauce and 1/2 of the cheese.

Follow up with some cooked chicken.

Spray a 9×13 pan with grease and place in the filled tortillas. I can get 10 in at at time.

Cover with the Topping sauce.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, cover with tinfoil and place on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or bubbly.

Ooey, gooey goodness

Serve with re-fried beans or green rice and have a fiesta!

Cleaning Hood Screens, Drip Pans and More

Standard
Cleaning Hood Screens, Drip Pans and More

So I am online and see a great idea for cleaning the screens over the oven. Usually I use Dawn but this seemed easier so I wanted to give it a try.

TOOLS:
Large Pot
Boiling Water
1/2 c Baking Soda

Screens Before

I put a large pot of water boiling on the stove and figure in for a penny, in for a pound and I may as well do the burners too. I removed the burner trays from under the coils, which meant there was another mess to clean up underneath those. The water was now at a rolling boil so I added 1/2 c of baking soda (a little at a time as it will fizz up) then added the screens and drip trays. The one downside I could see is that one burner was not going to get done as it was being used.

Drip Pans Before

I swished 1 screen around for maybe 10 seconds and you can see the split screen (could not resist) difference it made below. This was going to be FAR easier than using Dawn to clean them!

After a few seconds

Yes, I could replace the screens and skip the whole process but that would require 2 things. One, actually remembering to go to the store and find them. Two, that I would be lucky enough to find the right size here in Smallville. Plus the screens look great as do the burner trays.

Screens After

I think the trays could use 1 more go round in the pot, but I will save that for another day.

Drip Trays After

This was so successful I wanted to try it on my toaster oven.

I wanted to clean the rack but it would not fit into my pot.

Not perfect but much better.

What do you think, are you going to give it a try?

I do want to credit the site that gave me the original idea. One Good Thing

Crockpot Chili dogs

Standard

A sweet friend of mine once mentioned that she liked to make chili dogs in the slow cooker and they were ready when they got home from church. She must have thought I was dense when I asked for the recipe, because there isn’t one. It really is just as simple as it sounds.

First lay the hotdogs on the bottom of your container. If you use frozen they just take a little longer to heat up.

Next pour on the chili. It does not matter if it is homemade or from a can, it all gets poured on the hotdogs. Spread it around so that it cooks evenly.

Turn the cooker on low and let it work for 3 hours. When you come back it is ready to serve! What I really like about this idea is that I can turn it down to warm and the family can come eat as they get home. Dish up with your favorite toppings.

I hope this easy idea helps you on a busy day, if it does say thanks to my friend in Texas!

Clipping Coupons

Standard
Clipping Coupons

I regularly hear “I don’t have the time to do coupons”. I believe people say that because they have seen the show Extreme Couponing where the people featured say they spend 30 hours a week on prepping their coupons. What you don’t see are the statements where the shopper clarifies that they only spend that much time for the show. The average person is not going to try to save $1,000+ on a single shopping trip!

Personally, I only spend a couple of hours a week (if that). This includes making my shopping list! For example, this week I had 5 inserts from Smart Source, and 8 inserts from a specific company. (I got lucky and 1 paper had extras) Something to keep in mind, not all inserts are obvious. Often companies have inserts dedicated solely to their products and when you sort through your newspaper you could toss them out thinking they are advertisements. I cut them all out while watching the season finale of Downton Abby on PBS.

To begin, I remove pages from each insert and stack like ones together.

Once they have been sorted, I find those which include more than 1 page. In other words, they open up like a newspaper. As you can see from the example below, often the coupons are on separate pages. In which case, I open each one up and tear the pages apart, again stacking the same sides together. You must always check before doing this as often there is a coupon that straddles both sides and you don’t want to rip it in half.

Before I start cutting, I have a pile of paperclips handy. I find I can cut through about 6 pages with my scissors at one time. As I finish with a particular coupon, I use the paperclips to hold them together. In another 20 minutes I have a stack ready to file, I remove the paperclips as I slide them into the pockets. Honestly, if I did not get up and do other things like a load of laundry, it would take me less time, but it does get tedious so I take a break here and there. Some people like to staple the coupons together before they cut. While that does keep them together, it makes it harder to use just 1 or 2 at a time and the cashiers don’t like to get handed a stapled stack.

I make quick piles according to how my binder is set up and file the coupons. As I put new ones in, I try to find expired ones to toss. This usually takes me about 20 minutes. All told I have spent maybe 80 minutes putting it all together. Since I have a pretty good idea of the coupons I have in my binder, I can create my shopping lists in less than 30 minutes. Less than two hours worth of work, doing what I was going to do anyway, and I save an average of 60% a month on my shopping bill.

Chicken Pot Pie

Standard

As far back as the 16h century, recipes for pot pies have abounded in cookbooks. The basic idea is simple, mix meat and veggies with some gravy, cover with a crust and bake. This recipe covers the very basics of the dish and allows the individual cook to tailor it to their own tastes and what is around the kitchen.

INGREDIENTS:
3 c Cooked Chicken
3 c Cooked and diced potatoes
1/2 – 2 c vegetable
1 box Pie Pastry Dough

1 1/2 c heavy cream
2 Tb Flour
1 1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 c Low Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth

If I know I am going to make potato salad or pot pie for dinner this week, I bake extra potatoes a day or 2 before hand. They peel very easy and won’t get soggy. I store in a ziplock bag and then cut up when I am ready to use them.

Layer the chicken and potatoes into a 2 quart dish. Top with your vegetable of choice. I use button mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, peas, asparagus or even corn. Whatever I have leftover in the fridge or as a small bag in the freezer. If using mushrooms, saute in butter first. All vegetable should be cooked before adding, raw vegetables will not cook in the time the pot pie is in the oven. Vegetables that are diced and frozen have been blanched and will do well, ones that are already extremely soft could turn to mush. The variance in measurement comes from the size of the veggies you are going to use. Corn versus asparagus for example, will not fill the measuring cup in the same way.

To make the gravy, add cream, flour, paprika, salt and pepper to a small sauce pot and heat over medium heat. It will take about 5 minutes to begin thickening and you need to whisk the entire time. Whisk in the broth. I usually buy low sodium because I want to control the amount in my dish.

Pour the gravy over the other ingredients. If you would prefer a pot pie with more gravy than you see below, go ahead and double the recipe.

Cover the dish with pie pastry, sealing the edges. I have found that for a pot pie, a premade crust works well. In this case I only needed 1 from the box so the other goes into the freezer for future use. For an actual pie I prefer to make my own from scratch but in this form there is little difference and the ease of store bought is worth it. Beat 1 egg and a tsp of warm water till frothy. Brush over the entire pastry, including the edges. This helps it become a nice golden brown.

Egg Wash

All brushed and ready to bake

Place on the middle rack of the oven set at 400 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then remove and place on a cooling rack 5 to 10 minutes.

It is ready to eat!

Cut with a pie server or sharp knife

Serve on a plate or in a bowl.

MEALS IN ADVANCE: Chicken Mix

Standard

With the cost of food on the rise, we all are trying to save money when we can. Recently Safeway had chicken quarters for .69 a pound. The one problem is that the pieces were all frozen together and to separate them, I would have to thaw the entire bag. It is exactly this kind of deal that works for my meals in advance way of cooking. I thawed and cooked all the pieces and had enough for 5 meals in my freezer.

USES
Salads
Casseroles
Soups
Pizza
Eggrolls
Pot pie
Tacos
Any recipe that requires cooked chicken

INGREDIENTS:
Chicken
Garlic Salt
Pepper
Onions

Wash and dry the chicken pieces. If you happened to have a deal on whole chickens, I find it works better to at least cut them in half. Season the chicken with garlic salt and pepper. Lay all the pieces in a roasting pan, leaving on the skin. Slice up an onion and scatter the slices over the chicken. If you have some celery or carrots that have seen better days, toss them in the pot as well. This time I used red onions, but have also used white and yellow onions interchangeably. Pour 1 cup of water into the pan and cover.

Bake at 350 for 2 hours. Depending on how much chicken you have (I had 10 pounds here) it may take longer. If pieces are stacked on each other, it adds to the time as does cooking a whole chicken versus pieces. You must be sure that all the chicken has cooked all the way through!!!!

Remove the chicken and set to the side, allowing to cool. Strain the juice left in the pan to remove any pieces of vegetable. Allow it to cool slightly so the grease can separate from the broth. Store in a glass jar for future use.

Tear apart the chicken, tossing the bones and skin. Lay a piece of wax or parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread the shredded chicken on the sheet, cover with tin foil and pop into the freezer. When frozen all the way through (only a few hours) store in zip lock bags.Because the chicken has frozen separately, you can remove by cupfuls as you need it.

Oven Fried Bacon

Standard

My family loves bacon, I hate cooking it. I don’t have a griddle and trying to cook enough in a skillet takes far too long. Plus the grease is just horrible to deal with. Baking it in the oven skips that whole process.

Using a cookie sheet, place a cooling rack on top. As long as it is metal and not plastic, it will be fine. Lay the bacon so that each slice touches the one next to it. The grease will drip down and the bacon will cook evenly. You can also add flavor if you like such as maple syrup or black pepper.

Place the pan into a 350 degree oven. How long it takes to cook will depend on how crispy you like your bacon and how thick it is. If one person likes theirs extra crispy you can have their bacon on a separate pan. Plan on at least 20 minutes for each batch of bacon.

The rendered fat can be poured into a jar and stored in the fridge for later use.