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Posted by on Nov 3, 2011 in Everyone Will Eat It, Kitchen Tools, Try Something New | 0 comments

Fajita Chicken

Say you make the Veggie Fajitas from yesterday, but you live with carnivores. Make Fajita Chicken!

This chicken is so easy, and it’s quite tasty. All you need is a little time.

Take 3 or so chicken breasts (1.5 – 2 lbs) and lay them out horizontally in front of you on a cutting board. Cut strips vertically every 1.5 inches. The width of your strips will determine the length of your shred later on. Bust out the crockpot and load in the chicken for the adventure. Add 2 cups or so of water or chicken broth (just enough to cover the chicken), 3 T white vinegar (for tenderness, baby), and 3 T fajita seasoning. Season with S&P. Add some garlic (3 cloves, finely chopped) and onion (1 medium, chopped), if it floats your boat. Cook on low for 3 hours.

Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid. On a dinner plate or in a glass cooking dish (like a Pyrex) or on your countertop, take two forks and shred the chicken. Or (this is the best thing ever!!!)…stick the chicken in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the paddle attachment and turn it on low. Turn it up a notch or two once it gets going. Ta da! Shredded chicken in 30 seconds. (Disclaimer: this is not my idea, but I don’t remember where I read it. I think I saw it on Pinterest. They are a genius though! It works great!)

Now, the cooking liquid can be reduced on the stove top for a tasty sauce. Or you can store your shredded chicken in it to increase the flavor. Make a double batch and freeze in 1.5 cup portions in plastic bags.

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Posted by on Nov 2, 2011 in Try Something New | 2 comments

Veggie Fajitas

I made these easy and delicious veggie fajitas with a homemade mix of fajita seasoning. For the seasoning, mix up 2 parts of this “list” chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano or Italian seasoning and 1 part red pepper flakes. If you’re measuring for one recipe, 1/2 t of the list + 1/4 t red pepper flakes is a good amount. Or you can make the seasoning in bulk, 2 T of each on the list + 1 T of the red pepper flakes. Then measure out about a tablespoon of the mix per recipe.

For the veggie fajitas, add the following to a skillet (cast-iron would work great for this) with 3 T olive oil.

1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper (red or green), sliced
1 small can chopped green chilis

Add the seasonings and let the first round of veggies cook and soften for at least 10 minutes.

Add 1 T of oil, 1 T of lemon juice, 1 lb container baby bellas (rinsed and thinly sliced), and 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes to incorporate the seasoning.

Serve on tortilla with your favorite fajita toppings…shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce, etc.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand in whatever amounts suit your tastes.

Cilantro!

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Posted by on Oct 27, 2011 in On the Basics, Try Something New | 1 comment

Feed Yourself a Week from Now

This week, I was talking with a group of friends about cooking at home vs. eating out and making wise food choices. It can seem down right impossible to eat food that is healthy, easily available, budget friendly, quick, and TASTES GOOD (for crying out loud!). One of the major factors that makes this task so impossible is that many people decide what they’re doing to eat about 5 minutes before they eat it. I recently read an article with tips on making the most of an entrepreneur/freelance lifestyle. One of those tips (#2) was to plan for your income 5 months ahead of time…not “I’ve got to make a sale, or I’m not going to get dinner on the table tonight.”

I think that same principle applies to meal planning. It’s Wednesday at 11:59 a.m., and your stomach is starting to growl. Do you think you’re going to make a better decision about what to eat if you decide with little to no forethought (probably a drive-through burger) or if you went to the store on Monday to purchase the ingredients for a healthy lunch and packed said lunch the night before? Yeah, that’s what I thought. You can do this! It’s not impossible!

Take baby steps.

  • Check out my grocery planning post and the grocery list and plan template.
  • Break up the tasks and schedule them. For example: Wednesday night – make your plan, Thursday – do your shopping, and Saturday – prep and cook for the following week.
  • Always keep a running list of things you need the next time you go to the store. If something that you use all the time is running low, add it to the list immediately (there is an app for that).
  • Plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You will be hungry at all of these times…give yourself an easy choice when the time comes.
  • The plan can help you be accountable, but it is not the end all, be all. You can be flexible with it. Just please, please, please be mindful of food waste. Plan your weekly menu to use fresh items right after you go to the store and make meals that require like ingredients. Got a whole bunch of an ingredient left that you need to use up? Try Google Recipe Search or Allrecipes to search by ingredient.
  • We all know not to go to the grocery store hungry, right?
  • Find pockets of time that work better for food preparation. There are no laws that say you have to cook dinner every night. Cook 3 meals on the weekend and divide them into meal-sized portions for later in the week or freeze prepared meals to cook later. Pack your lunch the night before, not when you’re rushing to get out the door.
  • Prep your produce as soon as you walk in the door from the grocery store. Wash, chop, pre-portion, and anything else you can do ahead of time. You can’t do this with all fruits and veggies, but this will at least give you a head start and make it more likely for you to use fresh ingredients. Also, there is no shame in frozen veggies. I use them A LOT since I’m the only veggie eater in my household (see the note about food waste).
  • Keep track of your family’s favorite meals/recipes. Not sure how? Flipping through them can help you decide on what to make.
  • If you’re not sure about meal creativity, there’s no shame in planning meal cycles. Plan a week of meals; then, plan another week of meals. And another and another. And another. Every 5 weeks you’ll eat the same things, but I bet a lot of people do this anyway.
  • In addition to your scheduled menu, learn a few “pantry meals” just in case you can’t make it to the store on your regular day or something. These are things that you kind of keep on hand to pull out at a moment’s notice without any fancy ingredients. You already know everyone likes it, and it’s easy.
  • Arm yourself with knowledge. Don’t be afraid of new recipes. Try to learn new things. Watch a YouTube video on how to blanch or use a knife properly. Try out a new spice or ingredient. Broaden your food horizons and cooking abilities, and you’ll keep yourself entertained.

Don’t expect miracles. If you’re headed through the drive through for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, you’re probably not going to quit cold turkey. I call it grocery planning, but you should realize this is a lifestyle change. You have to think about your meals and make decisions. I think this is hard for some people. It takes preparation, patience, and practice!

Remember that eating out sometimes serves as something other than eating food to survive. If you like eating out with friends, invite them over for a potluck. If going to a restaurant provides you a break, get everyone involved, and share the responsibilities of meal preparation with your husband/wife and kids.

Do you have any tips to add to the list? Stay tuned for my tips on keeping a well-stocked pantry.

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Posted by on Oct 26, 2011 in Try Something New | 0 comments

Pumpkin Carving Contest

A few weeks ago, we hosted a Fall Fest at work benefitting United Way. Mini pumpkins were for sale along with several tables mounded with baked goods. We had prizes to win and games to play (badminton and corn hole). Food trucks sold their tasty wares. Oh yeah…and there was a pumpkin carving contest.

I had a very busy week surrounding this event, so I knew my carving time would be minimal. The weekend before the contest, I bought my pumpkin and prepped accessories for her. Her name was Etswitch (for Etsy + witch). I’d like to introduce you now…

I knew the moment I saw the pumpkin…it was meant to be a witch. I mean, check out those warts! Eww!

I crafted her collar out of natural colored coffee filters and black tulle. The base was a dinner plate wrapped in craft paper (aka a brown paper bag).

Her hat is made from black craft paper and tulle with a coffee filter, tulle, and black rafia adornment.

The night before the contest, I cut a hole just big enough for my hand on the underside of the pumpkin. I chose to go with the flat area where the pumpkin grew so that it would stay nestled on the plate well. I scooped out all of the innards and put the plug back in. For the eyes, I used my OXO vegetable peeler (like this one). It has a tiny little melon baller thingy (technical term) that I use often for getting the eyes out of my potatoes. I used this tool to carve away the outside of the pumpkin to reveal the bright yellow flesh underneath. For the mouth, I cut a rather sly grin with a small knife. The finishing touches were the zucchini eyes and teeth. The zucchini eyes were attached with yellow sewing pins to complete her menacing look, and the teeth are secured with toothpicks. I glued moss on for hair, and she was ready for her debut!

Check out the competition:

My friend Taylor won 1st place with the big teeth on the left. Etswitch got second place!!!

 

Note: This is not a sponsored post, but I LOVE OXO. My kitchen is literally full of their stuff.

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Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 in Try Something New | 0 comments

Getting to Know You

I’m so looking forward to the Food Blog Forum in Nashville next weekend. I thought it might be fun to have a little Q&A to get to know each other. I can’t wait to meet everyone in person!

How to: Answer each question in short form or choose one question and blog about it. Or if a question is a topic you’ve addressed before, let your blog speak for itself by answering with links to past posts. Make your own rules.

What’s your favorite ingredient?
Paula has butta, and Rachel has EVOO. What’s yours?

Who is your inspiration?

What’s your ultimate “food destination?”
A place you’ve been or a place you hope to go?
A restaurant, a city, a region, a country?

What’s your favorite cook book/cooking show/food blog?

Have you ever met anyone from the Internet before?

What cooking tool can you NOT live without?

What FBF aspect/session/event are you most looking forward to?

What part of blogging causes the most struggle for you?

What part of your blog are you most proud of?

What is your food philosophy?

Bonus: What do you love most about Nashville?

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http://www.picky-palate.com | http://annascozykitchen.com | http://www.eatinonthecheap.com
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http://www.inspiredtaste.net | http://www.travelinglowcarb.com | http://blog.ziplist.com | http://www.dessertfortwo.com
http://anorganicprocess.blogspot.com | http://Vivanoshvegas.Tumblr.com | http://www.doughmesstic.net
http://ferventfoodie.com | http://www.lifeundeveloped.wordpress.com | http://www.jamiesunny.wordpress.com
hhttp://www.bakeyourday.net | ttp://bakingwithbasil.com | http://www.laurenslatest.com | http://therelishdish.com
http://www.bellalimento.com | http://chocolateandcarrots.com | http://laaguacate.com | http://www.AmyCotta.tv
http://cupadeecakes.blogspot.com | http://www.laurenslatest.com | http://www.blogs.nashvillescene.com/bites
http://thenovicechefblog.com | http://www.foodpluswords.com | http://www.steamykitchen.com
http://foodonfifth.com | http://www.carlyklock.com | http://bevcooks.com | http://winewithlisa.com
http://www.erinsfoodfiles.com | http://nothingbutdelicious.blogspot.com
http://WhiteOnRiceCouple.com | http://lesleyeats.com

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Posted by on Sep 18, 2011 in Try Something New | 0 comments

Tomato Gravy

I had never had this dish before. I met a friend at a new restaurant in downtown Memphis called Cockadoo’s on Second. It seemed kind of different, kind of weird. But it sounded good, so I went for it. The dish was Tomato Gravy, and tonight, more than a year later, I tried to recreate it. Also, I had a ton of farmer’s market veggies to use up. I guess I did this a little backwards. After I made it, I looked up “real” recipes. I’m glad I followed my taste buds on this one because it came out just like I wanted it to. It make not be a “typical” tomato gravy recipe, but I loved it!

Chop/slice the following:

3-4 small zucchini

3-4 small yellow squash

1 large onion

1-2 cups okra (fresh or frozen)

In a very large skillet, saute the zucchini, squash, and onion in about 2 T of olive oil on medium-high heat, stirring often. When those are soft and brown, add a 28 oz. can of tomato puree (crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce would be fine, too) and 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes. Then, stir in the okra. Season with 2 T butter, 2 t salt, 1t black pepper, 2-3 finely chopped cloves of garlic, and a mixture of herbs*. I also added 3 cubes of my carrot puree (optional).

Turn down to med-low and stir every 10 minutes or so for 30 minutes total or until veggies are tender. Taste for seasonings before plating. Serve over fluffy rice.

Carrots and bell peppers would also be a yummy addition. If you like spicy flavors, a little crushed red pepper would work nicely in the sauce as well!

*For the herbs, use a tablespoon and a half of dried herbs, either a combo of basil, parsley, rosemary, etc. or a handful of mixed fresh herbs. I used fresh sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and basil.

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