Monday, April 25, 2016

Deglazing and Fond

Chicken Kale Pasta - recipe from Pioneer Woman's Dinnertime Cookbook
Click here for the recipe

Since today is Crock-pot Monday I chose a recipe I could start in my crockpot during the school day and finish after work. 

The Pioneer Woman calls for you to cook your chicken and then deglaze the pan. This rookie in the kitchen didn't know what that even meant. After reading on the great food blog The Reluctant Gourmet I learned that:

"Deglazing is a fancy and intimidating word that means to pour some cold liquid into a very hot pan to get up all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Those brown bits are where all the flavors are, and it is called “fond.” (Fond is French for bottom)

When I got home I made my recipe in my Le Creuset stock pot and deglazed the pot. What I realized later was that my deglazing was totally useless because the pot was completely clean and didn't have any fond in the bottom of the pot. Next time I should probably look up confusing terms before starting the recipe. Oh well :)

Despite my mistakes it was an awesome meal! I would definitely make it again! When my hubby, Jeff, saw I was cooking with kale he was skeptical. Afterwards he gave a glowing review. He described it as a "delicious, light pasta. Very good even for having kale in it." 

Home cook lessons from today's recipe:

1. This recipe might be better if I cooked the chicken when I get home and try deglazing the pan correctly :)

2. This recipe will be moved to my Pack our lunch Sunday or Gourmet Friday recipe list.

3. I will try to look for other recipes where I get to deglaze the pan.

4. New terms to remember: Deglazing and Fond

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Menu Planning…revisited

Since I last posted I have been discovering that cooking and baking have become a passion for me. I love reading recipes, cookbooks, and food magazines.

My two favorite things right now are:

1. America's Test Kitchen Podcast - I love this podcast!! This show has opened my eyes to the best way to make foods, what tools are most helpful in the kitchen, and the science behind cooking. I LOVE IT!!

Image result for america's test kitchen podcast

2. I also am really into the Pioneer Woman's Dinnertime cookbook. My sister gave me this recipe for Christmas and I love it! I have tried 6 recipes from it and have loved every one! I plan to keep working my way through this one over the next few months!!

Image result for pioneer woman dinnertime

Both of these things have greatly impacted the way I cook at home. I haven't really used my menus I posted about previously. SO…I am going to try something new. I have separated all my entree recipes into the following 7 categories:

Pack our Lunch Sunday - a recipe that makes a lot of servings and is yummy warmed up in our lunch for the next couple of days

Crockpot Monday - a recipe that cooks all day while I am work and is easy to assemble on that first night of the week when I might be tired from a big day back to work

Salad Tuesday - a recipe that is a little lighter and won't leave many leftovers

Breakfast Wednesday - a breakfast recipe that is quick and easy 

Grill Out Thursday - a recipe that takes us outdoors to cook

Gourmet Friday - a recipe that copy-cats a restaurant favorite or takes more time to prep; this is the night I might try a new recipe that requires a page full of ingredients

Lunchtime Saturday - a recipe that would be a quick bite to eat during the day since we often eat out this evening; it might also be a brunch item that I enjoy making on a lazy Saturday morning

My goals:
- Create a structure for my menu planning
- Keep our menus full of variety
- Avoid re-inventing the wheel each week when I plan my menu

I invite you to follow along as I attempt to implement this new system. I hope to blog about the meals I make each week and share how well the system is working. I might make some tweaks along the way or maybe I will just throw out the whole system and start again.

Here is what I have planned for this week:

Week 1
Crockpot Monday -  Chicken Kale Pasta
Salad Tuesday - Taco Salad
Breakfast Wednesday - Meat and Potato Scramble
Grill out Thursday - Steak Fajitas
Gourmet Friday - Gyros and Fries
Lunchtime Saturday - Sweet Almond Pastries
Pack Our Lunch Sunday - Beef with Snow Peas and fried rice

I love sharing new recipes we love and I hope this is a place I can do that!! I hope you enjoy reading about this adventure I am taking!!

Alicia :)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Week 6 Menu

Week 6 Menu

Monday – French Onion Chicken Sandwiches with pasta salad

Tuesday – Roasted Garlic Chicken White Sauce Pizza

Wednesday – Scrambled Eggs, Toast and Bacon

Thursday – Grill Out: Steak, Veggies, and Potatoes

Friday -  Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps with pasta salad

Saturday  No cook day: Eat Out or Leftovers

Sunday – Baked Spaghetti with salad and bread
* I use a jar of Alfredo sauce rather than the homemade version.

Grocery List

1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 medium zucchini
1 large cucumber
2 Red Onion
1 White Onion
2 cups baby spinach
Head of lettuce
2 Red peppers
2 Green Peppers

2 cans sliced ripe olives

Italian salad dressing

5 flour tortillas

 2 boxes Thin Spaghetti Noodles
1jar of alfredo sauce
1 jar of marinara sauce (25 oz)

Celery Seed

Sesame Seeds

Ground Beef (1 pound)
4 chicken breasts


4 hamburger buns
French Bread
Sliced Bread

Refrigerated Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust
Half and Half

Grated Parmesan Cheese
Shredded Mozzerella
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Slices of swiss cheese

Frozen Italian Meatballs (small bag)

Home Ingredients
Garlic Salt
Garlic Powder
6 Garlic Cloves (I used minced garlie)
Ground/dried thyme
Dried oregano
Dried parsley
Olive Oil
Nonstick cooking spray

Worcestershire Sauce

Minced Onion

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Week 5 Menu

Week 5 Menu

Monday – Easy Chicken Sandwiches with Carrots and Ranch
(See recipe below)

Tuesday – Enchiladas
*Since I have conferences again this week Jeff will eat pre-made enchiladas from Fareway for dinner. 

Wednesday – Jeff’s Breakfast Casserole with Orange Juice
(See recipe below)

Thursday –   Turkey Reubens (The Rachel) and Waffle Fries
*I use Fareway Coleslaw rather than making the Poppy Seed Broccoli Slaw in the recipe. We use provolone rather than swiss cheese. We also use more than 1 slice of deli turkey in each sandwich.

Friday -  Grill Out: Gourmet Hamburgers (with gouda cheese and bacon) and salad

Saturday –   No cook day: Eat Out or Leftovers

Sunday –  Cheesy Chicken, Bacon, Broccoli & Rice

Grocery List

Green Pepper (1)
Red Pepper (1)
Onion (2)
Carrot Sticks

Chicken Broth (1 cup)

White Rice (1 cup)

Fareway Coleslaw
Thousand Island Dressing
Ranch Dressing

Bacon (1 package)
Chicken Breast (12 oz)
Deli Turkey Slices (1 pound)
Ham Steaks

Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning
Frozen Enchiladas  (2)

Marble Rye Bread sliced
Burger Buns
Hawaiian Buns

Cheddar Cheese (Shredded) – 2 bags
Sliced Swiss Cheese (Chicken sandwiches)
Sliced Provolone Cheese (Reuben recipe calls for Swiss but we prefer Provolone)
Gouda Cheese

Orange Juice

Frozen Waffle Fries
Frozen shredded hash browns

Home Ingredients
Olive Oil

Easy Chicken Sandwiches

Put 2 frozen chicken breasts in a slow cooker. Pour a container of chicken broth over the chicken. Sprinkle rotisserie seasoning over the chicken. Cook on low for 6 hours in the slow cooker.

Shred the chicken.

Spread Mayo on the bottom of a Hawaiian bun, add shredded chicken and a slice of swiss cheese on top. Cover with the top of the bun. Cover with foil.

Bake the sandwiches for 5-10 minutes checking to see when the cheese is melted.

Jeff’s Breakfast Casserole

Grease a 9x13 pan. Pour a bag of hash browns in the pan.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until brown.

Mix up 8 eggs, salt and pepper, and a little bit of milk. Pour on top of hashbrowns.

Cut up 2 cured ham steaks (could use bacon or sausage which would need cooked ahead of time), 1 green pepper, 1 red pepper, and 1 onion. Spread evenly on top of egg/hashbrown mixture.

Bake until eggs/meat are cooked.

With 5 minutes left spread cheddar cheese on top. Jeff uses nearly 2 cups.