Saturday, October 10, 2015

Asian Orange & Ginger Salad Dressing

I love Chinese chicken salad.  I keep cut up vegetables in the refrigerator along with lettuce, spinach and home made dressings.   Homemade dressings are so easy to make, and much better tasting that bottled stuff.  Give it a try and see for yourself.

3/4 cup avocado oil (I buy it at Costco)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, chopped very fine (I use a micro plane to grate)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (use the micro plane, it's your best friend in the kitchen)
1 teaspoon grated ginger -- yep, the micro plane

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine all of the above ingredients.  Tighten the lid and shake until well combined.  Can be refrigerated for up to 6 weeks.

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup made it's first appearance in my neck of the woods back in 1998 when the women at my church published a cook book.  A woman named Loree Brewerton shared a recipe that was delicious.  I think the entire neighborhood made soup for months.  It's still one of my family's favorites.  I changed the recipe a bit and added a secret ingredient -- mango salsa.  Pineapple salsa works too if you can't find Mango.  Costco usually sells one or the other.  I usually make a double batch of this soup and freeze half so I always have "go to" meals in the freezer.

3 cups prepared chicken, shredded
1 48-oz. can chicken stock
1 48-oz. container of Santa Barbara Mango Peach Salsa
1 11-oz. can white corn
1 15-oz. can black beans
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
juice of 1 fresh lemon

Over medium, heat the olive oil a large stock pot, add the onions, bell pepper and garlic.  Saute until the onion is transparent, about 4 minutes.   Add the remaining ingredients (except the chicken) and cook over medium low heat for 20 minutes for the flavors  to combine.  Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes more.

Serve hot with:

Tortilla chips
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
A squeeze of lime (this really makes it).

Friday, September 25, 2015

White Bean Chicken Chili

I first had this chili at my wedding shower back in 1993.  My friends Jodi Ream and Tracy Walton served it to all the guests and became a big hit among our friends.   It's since become a winter staple at our house.  I make a double batch and portion it out into gallon zip lock freezer bags.  I know that my family of four eats approximately 7 cups at a meal.  So that's what goes into a zip lock bag -- 7 cups.  Try doubling your favorite recipes, and freezing half.  In time, you will have a freezer full of delicious meals.  You end up only having to cook maybe twice a week.

Tip:  If you double this recipe, make sure to use two pots.

3 15 oz. cans great northern beans
8 cups chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, (use a microplane to grate or chop very fine)
2 teaspoons Oregano
4 teaspoons Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 teaspoons chicken flavor Better Than Bullion
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 7 oz. cans mild green chiles, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped fine
4 cups chicken, chopped into 1/2 pieces
1 _ oz. carton sour cream
3 1/2 cups Jack cheese, grated

For garnish:
chopped tomato
chopped green onions
diced avacado
tortilla chips

Heat the olive oil a large stock pot, over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, garlic, bullion, chili's cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt, pepper and beans, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the chicken, sour cream and cheese and simmer until everything is melted and heated through.

Serve with the above garnishes.

Serves 8.

Chicken Pot Pie

Who doesn't love chicken pot pie!  This is a family favorite for sure.  I make a double or  triple batch of filling so I only have to cook once, and freeze the rest in zip lock freezer bags.  It's my motto:  "cook once, eat thrice."  I do this with any recipe that freezes well -- double or triple the recipe.  Then I have a freezer full of ready made meals on days I'm too busy to cook.  When using the freezer meal, I defrost one of the bags in the refrigerator the day I want to made chicken pot pie. I also make double batches of pie crust and freeze half, or buy ready made pie crusts, which is the easiest way to go.  If you are gluten intolerant, there are lots of bakeries that sell ready made gluten free crusts.  Instead of thickening the gravy with flour, use arrowroot powder or corn starch.

My family loves this pie with a simple salad and our favorite dressing.  By the way, I NEVER buy dressing.  I make my own.  Check out some of the dressing recipes in the Salad section!  They are so easy, and free of preservatives!!!

One more tip, when I'm making a casserole or chicken pot pie, I buy roasted whole chickens from Costco for $4.99.  I shred the meat and keep it in the freezer.  So much you can do if you have chicken on hand!  You can also throw the bones in a pot and make your own stock.  I do this once a month and make soup with the stock (check out the recipes for tortilla soup and white bean chicken chili).  Super budget friendly, and homemade meals as opposed to take out or processed food.

This recipe makes two pies:

4 cups chicken, diced into 1/2 inch squares (I buy a roasted chicken from Costco)
4 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced fine
2 carrots, diced fine
2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil (I buy at Costco)
1 11oz. can white corn, or 1 ear of fresh corn, cobbed
1/2 small bag frozen petite peas (don't add if your kids won't eat )
1 potato, diced into 1/2 inch squares
2 15oz. cans chicken stock
2 teaspoons chicken flavor Better Than Bullion
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup cream
3/4 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
two pie crusts for a 10-inch pie (a top and bottom)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the potato in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Let cool, then drain off any water.

In a medium saute pan, over medium high heat, add the olive oil.
Add the carrots, celery, onion and half the salt and pepper, and saute until translucent.  Add the potato, peas and corn, and stir to combine.  Cook for 1 minute more.  Remove from heat.  Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the flour and whisk to combine.  Whisk for about 1 minute until the flour is light brown.  Add the chicken stock, all the seasonings, bullion, and cream and turn the heat to high.  Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens so it is the consistency of gravy. Add all of the vegetables and the chicken to the gravy mixture and stir to combine.   Remove from heat. Taste, and add more seasoning to your liking.

Place one of the prepared pie crusts in a 9 or 10 inch pie pan.  (I use a glass pan I bought from Walmart).  Add 1/2 of the chicken filling.  (Once the remainder of the filling is cool, put it in a gallon size zip lock freezer bag and freeze for another day.)  Top the pie with another crust and seal the edges.  Cut a few slits in the top of the crust to vent.   Place the pie on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.  Place a thin strip of foil around the edge of the crust so as not to burn.   Place the baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Remove the foil from around the edge of the pie and bake 5-10 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown all over.   Make sure it's done or the pie will be doughy instead of flaky.

Remove the pie from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

My own recipe made up on the fly for one of my retreat weekends. There are so many food issues now its really hard to cook for a crowd. I find this vinaigrette to be something the gluten free, dairy free, whole 30 crowd can enjoy.

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 jalapeno
1 tomatillo, quartered 
1/2 bunch cilantro
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup white wine vinegar 
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 cup grape seed oil (I buy at Costco)

Put all the ingredients except the oil into a blender. Process until smooth. With the motor running on low speed, add the oil and blend until emulsified. Taste and add more sweetener or oil to your liking. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sour Cherry Rhubarb Jam

This takes me back to days of my childhood, sitting in the cherry tree in my back yard reading books.  My grandma would make cherry jam for us if we picked all the cherries l.  It's one of my all time favorites.   Not only is it good on toast, I love mixing it with a little Dijon mustard for a glaze on grilled pork loin. 

6 cups sour cherries, pitted
2 cups chopped rhubarb
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 2/3 cups water or juice from cherries
6 tablespoons low sugar pectin
2 1/3 cups sugar
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter
10 - 8oz. Canning jars with lids and rings

Place the cherries and the rhubarb in a blender with the lemon juice and water  and blend until smooth. Place the mixture into a large pan over high heat.

Sprinkle the pectin over the cherry mixture one tablespoon at a time and stir to combine.  Bring to a rolling boil that can't be stirred down. 

Add the sugar and salt and bring back to a to a rolling boil.  Add the butter.  Boil for for one minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat. 

Fill your jars with the jam leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Skim off any foam with a teaspoon. Wipe the rims off with a damp paper towel.

Seal the jars with the prepared lids and seals. 

Process the jars in a prepared water bath for 10 minutes. If you live at a high altitude, process for 20 minutes. 

Remove the jars from the water and let cool on a dish towel. Check the seals by pressing your finger in the center of the lid. If it makes noise the jar has not sealed properly and needs to be reprocessed or refrigerated immediately. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sweet Zucchini Relish

This recipe is a homage to my inlaws, both master gardners who spend the entire summer tending their vegetables and canning the harvest.  The first time I tried zucchini relish was at their house. This is my own recipe. It's sweet with a spicy kick and delish mixed in tuna salad, on grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs, and on grilled salmon.  

8-10 zucchini (enough for 10 cups shredded zucchini)
2 medium sweet onions like Maui or Vadilia
2 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon tumeric
2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

6-8  8oz canning jars with lids and rings (sterilize in the dishwasher and don't remove until ready to use)

Grate the zucchini using the large holes on the grater. 
Chop all the remaining vegetables to a fine dice.  (I use a food processor to do all of the chopping and grating.  My processor has an attachment for grating. When chopping I use the standard blade.  Use the pulse button so the vegetables don't turn to mush.)

Place all of the vegetables and the salt in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 8 hours at room temperature.

Rinse and drain the vegetables. Rinse and drain again. Squeeze out all the excess water. 

Bring all the remaining ingredients to a boil in a large sauce pan. Add the vegetables and simmer for 20 minutes until thick. 

Pack the relish into the prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe off the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel to remove any residue.  Top with lids and rings. 

Place rack in the bottom of a large stock pot or canning pot and fill halfway with water.  Bring to a boil.  Carefully lower the jars into the water using a pot holder, leaving a 2 inch space between the jars. 
Pour in more water if necessary so that the water level is at least 1 inch over the tops of the jars. Bring the water back to a  full boil and cover the pot, and process for 30 minutes. 

Remove the jars from the pot and place on a dish cloth several inches apart. Let the jars completely cool.  

Once cool, press the top of the lid with your finger to ensure that the lid is tight. The lid should not move at all. If it does, reprocess the unsealed jars, or place in the refrigerator and use immediately.