Homemade Chicken Salad

There are many ways to make chicken salad.  Tonight it was very humid and warm outside so I decided to use leftover chicken and make a plain chicken salad.  Picked a few of our homegrown Romaine lettuce leaves and some fresh rolls and dinner was done!!  I grow lettuce in planters all around the house.  Tonight I harvested some from the cute little deer planter by our side door.  Everyone does this don’t they???

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I used my small chopper to make a finer “less chunky” chicken salad. 

2 bone in chicken breasts, with the meat taken off and chopped

2 Tablespoons salad dressing/1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise

salt/pepper/garlic powder to taste

Optionals are unlimited for a fancier salad.  I have used raisins, craisins, walnuts, grapes, celery, onion, pecans, sunflower seeds etc.  You see you can add just about anything to this and it’s a fabulous lunch, dinner, snack, appetizer.

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Please send some positive thoughts, prayers, feelings, energy to one of our fellow bloggers, Of Kids and Cows, who is dealing with a very severe sickness with one of her children.  She can use all the strength of our blogging team to help her and her family as her daughter slowly recovers!!

Multi-Task Cooking

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In the past few posts of recipes I have used the phrase “multi-task cooking”.  In our crazy busy life this is one of the ways I keep my sanity.  I thought I would briefly explain how I do it and show how a quick few minutes of planning can really help you stay organized and efficient!!  I look through the freezer and plan which meats I will be cooking for dinner for 4 days.  I move them to the front of the freezer or place them in the fridge to thaw.

The picture above is from last night.  I marinated chicken in dressing for a 1/2 hour.  During that time, I par boiled Italian sausage to grill for tonight’s dinner, cooked the pasta for the chicken meal and made a quick fruit salad.  After 20 minutes the sausage was done and ready to cool to store until today for dinner.  I then put a pot of water in it’s place to boil the corn on the cob and lit the grill to preheat for the chicken.  Ten minutes later I cooked the chicken and seasoned the pasta with butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper while the corn was boiling away.  The chicken and corn were finished at the same time and dinner was served.

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Later I set up the above before heading to bed.  The kids lunch boxes and the hot meals they will have instead of a sandwich and the crockpot with all the seasonings ready next to it for the Italian Sausage to be put in before heading out to work the next morning.  While making their lunch choices I will be seasoning the sausage and getting it slow cooking.

I have hot dogs thawing and while cooking the onions and peppers for the Italian Sausage tonight I will boil potatoes to make potato salad to go with our hot dogs for Wednesday evening.

It’s like a game pre-planning and multi-task cooking.  But it’s a game I like to play because it helps me make wise food choices for our dinners, offer a homemade meal to my family, and helps me utilize my time effectively so I have more free time for my kids, gardening, riding, walking or whatever else I choose.

 

Homemade Chicken Fingers (teaching kids to cook)

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I was raised helping at mealtime.  Whether it was setting the table, getting the napkins out, making the salad, or cooking.  There was always work to be done and no reason why a child should not help.  I firmly believe it’s a LIFE skill every child should be taught and asked to participate in from the moment they can walk and comprehend.  The skills I learned are invaluable to me.  They taught me responsibility, organization, accountability and most importantly pride.  I was proud to put something on the table I helped make or made on my own.  I remember at a family party when I was around 7 years old at my grandparents asking if I could make a “carrot” salad.  My grandmother said go ahead but don’t waste anything.  So I peeled those carrots, sliced them into thin rounds, put a little oil on them (vegetable as that’s what we used back then), a dash of vinegar, salt, pepper, and sprinkle of sugar.  They were hard, oily and not that great but everyone tried them and my grandmother said over and over again how wonderful they looked and how pretty the salad made the table and how happy she was that she could rinse the leftovers in water and steam them for another dinner.   I was proud!!

My kids are expected to help in the kitchen (girl loves it, son I have to force most of the time), especially if I am making something they love.  Chicken Fingers is one of those foods. 

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not sure why the bird face but whatever

My daughter (yes the one who just turned 12 and is posing like a freak) had the job of breading the chicken.

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I cooked them in light grapeseed oil

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looking good

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sons job to put hot sauce mixed with melted butter on and set table

I like my chicken fingers “Buffalo” style which is Franks hot sauce heated with a little melted butter and shaken or drizzled onto the chicken.  Man of the house, son and myself eat them that way dipped in blue cheese.  Daughter eats them plain.

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A little side of garlic butter noodles and raw carrots and it’s a go!!  Everyone’s happy.

 

Chicken Fingers

6 – 8 thin sliced chicken tenders (you can use thin breasts or pound down regular breasts and cut them into slices

Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Panko bread crumbs (any style)

Oil for frying (you don’t need to submerge them just enough oil to cook both sides and keep the pan lubricated)

egg

milk

Dip the chicken strips into the egg and then milk and then coat with bread crumbs.  Cook approximately 4 minutes on each side or until they are cooked through.  Lay on papertowels and cover with tin foil while making hot sauce.

HOT SAUCE

Depending on how hot you like your sauce you can adjust the amounts.  I use approximately 1/3 cup of hot sauce and 3 tablespoons butter.  You can add more butter if it’s too hot or less if you want them spicy.

Serve with celery and carrots sticks and a side starch.

**Chicken fingers are expensive in a restaurant.  This meal is a money saver when you make it at home!!**

 

 

Mini Meatloaf and Rainbow in a Pan Veggies

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This is a wonderful homemade meal on the fly.  The meatloaf is fun for the kids to help make and it’s super tasty.  I do not make a starch with it because there is stuffing right in the meat so you just need a side veggie and dinner is on the table!!

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mix beef and stuffing and press into pan

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put a little pasta sauce in a dip in the middle

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bake and then top with cheese and set in oven to melt (this is something the kids love to do as you can see)

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little tasty cups of meatloaf!!

My kids call this veggie side “rainbow in a pan”.  Super easy and pretty too!!

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zucchini, summer squash, orange and red pepper, snap peas

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sprinkle a little panko crumbs on for the extra texture

Mini Meatloaf recipe (this is adapted from the Kraft website)  HEAT oven to 375°F.

Take 1 lb. extra-lean ground beef

1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix

1 cup water

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 small jar spaghetti sauce

grated mozzarella cheese

Mix all together in a bowl. Press into 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. Makeindentation in center of each with back of spoon; fill with spaghetti sauce (or you can use Ketchup or alfredo or even BBQ sauce).

BAKE 30 min. or until meatloaves are done (160°F).  Sprinkle on cheese and bake 5 min. or until melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Rainbow in a pan recipe:

Slice zucchini and summer squash thin

julienne style slice the orange and red peppers

Clean snap peas

Using a saute pan add 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic flavored olive oil, add veggies and cook until soft.  Sprinkle with panko crumbs and let sit for 2 minutes off of heat.  Serve

 

 

Top Round Roast Beef

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A few years back a chef friend of mine told me how to cook the “perfect” top round roast beef to slice for sandwiches.  Today we had 22 people for lunch and roast beef sandwiches was on the menu along with birthday cake for our daughter for dessert.  This meat was perfectly cooked and everyone came back for seconds.

I have followed his advice to the letter and our beef always comes out perfect.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees

Rinse the roast, rub it lightly with olive oil and season it heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and rosemary.  Press the seasoning into the meat turning it so you can get underneath it and on the sides.

Put the roast in a roasting pan sitting on top of a wire rack so it’s not sitting on the bottom of the pan. Add approximately 2 cups of water, 2 beef bouillon cubes, sprinkle a little of all the seasonings above into the juice.

Place the roast in the 500 degree oven for 20 minutes exactly. 

After 20 minutes turn the heat down to 300 and cook for 10 minutes for a rare beef, 20 minutes for medium rare, and 30 for medium.

**Note:  You want it on the rare side for sandwiches because the hot au jus you will dip the meat in before making the sandwich will cook the thin slices to whatever temperature you want. I usually stick the meat thermometer in when I take it out to make sure it’s under 120 degrees as I want it more rare.**

Take it out and let it sit until you can handle it without it being too hot.  Slice it thin.  Store in a baggie in the fridge when cool until ready to use.

Drain the Au Jus from the roasting pan and store that also.

When ready to serve, heat the Au Jus up to almost boiling and dip the meat into it briefly for rare or longer for a more cooked lunch meat.  Serve on a roll and put a spoonful of the au jus on the roll for a scrumptious homemade deli lunch!!  We also eat the leftovers on a sandwich the next day cold.  YUM

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Navy Bean Soup

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We had scalloped potatoes and ham the other night so I had the ham bone left over after taking some meat off for the casserole. It’s very cold here today so I threw together this soup and let it simmer while we did barn chores and came into a nice hot lunch.

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1 package navy beans (rinse well but do not soak)

some baby carrots or regular carrots diced

small onion diced

kale leaved chopped fine (your preference how much)

ham bone or cubed ham steak (this is totally optional as you don’t need the meat)

chicken bouillon cubes (I use 4 as mine are 1 cube per 2 cups of water)

8 cups of water

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

salt / pepper to taste

Toss all into a pot and simmer for an hour (or until beans are tender)

Perfect for our chilly afternoon, sneaking in some greens with the kale and served with warm bisquick biscuits!!

 

 

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

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In February I was asked to enter a Cancer cookoff.  It was called Cooking for Cancer Pasta Sauce Off.  The idea was to make a sauce and have people come to the event buy tickets to sample the sauces on pasta, basket raffles, 50/50 and silent auctions to raise money for Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY.  This was hosted by two 11 year old girls in my daughters class who created a club called “Cooking for Cancer”.  How could I refuse!!

So I went on a mission to find/create the best sauce I could to compete against 18 other entries and came up with my Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce.  Over 400 people attended the event and voted.  I am happy to say I won!!!  MORE IMPORTANTLY these two girls raised over $4,600.00 for cancer research!!

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I must have collected 70 emails from people who attended asking for my recipe.  I made it tonight as a side dish so thought I would share it as it is SIMPLE!!!  Your friends will be impressed trust me!!  Recipe at bottom

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This is all you need!!  Very inexpensive to make

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Chop the onion and garlic and soften in butter in a sauce pan.  Next chop the sundried tomatoes very fine (I use my very small chopper which I love!!) but you can chop by hand if you want.

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After the onion and garlic have sauteed in the butter for about 4 minutes add the finely chopped sundried tomatoes, tomato sauce, heavy cream and basil

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Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes while pasta cooks and serve on the pasta

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When I make this as a meal I add cooked chicken into the simmering process and serve it over pasta.  It’s a full meal!!

CREAMY SUN-DRIED TOMATO SAUCE

1 small onion, diced small

3 cloves garlic, minced (I use fresh as it holds the flavor better but you can use jarred)

15 oz can tomato sauce (I use Contadina with Italian Herbs)

1 jar sun dried tomatoes, chopped very fine (I use about ¾ of the jar or adjust to more or less per your taste)

1 pint heavy cream

Basil, chopped fine (about 4 nice size leaves)

Olive or grapeseed oil roasted garlic flavored (you only need about 2 tablesoons)

3 Tablespoons butter

 

Saute the garlic and onion in the butter and olive oil until just soft (approx.. 4 minutes) in a regular sauce pan, when soft add the tomato sauce, cream, sun dried tomatoes, and basil. Simmer about 20 minutes very lightly so the flavors all combine.

 **I usually cut up some cooked chicken and throw it into the simmering sauce and then serve it over penne or ziti pasta.

 You can also add parmesan cheese to the sauce or sprinkle on after and for a zing toss in some red pepper flakes

Now next time you need to impress some friends…remember this sauce.  I’d love to hear from you if you try it!!!