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Hero meals

February 23, 2012

Every once in a while I manage to stumble across something for my picky kid to eat that literally makes me feel like a hero. You know..those throw together meals that required no cooking whatsoever and your 4 year old is singing your praises and thanking you for “cooking” (eh-hem) such a great dinner?

I love being a hero.

I have 2 hero meals in rotation right now:

1. Shredded chicken wrap

2. Deli turkey roll up

It all started with the shredded chicken, which I told you about in this post a couple weeks ago. I did up another batch of chicken in the crock pot to make my shredded chicken, but this time I added some chilli powder and TexMex seasoning so I could use it for my Mexican dishes. BTW – so frickin’ good, you seriously need to do this with all your raw chicken.

Inside small tortilla shells, I added a small portion of the shredded chicken (warmed up in microwave) along with some freshly squeezed lime juice.

She ate it. All of it. She loved it and asks for chicken tortilla with lime juice every other night.

Hero!

The second meal is not so much a meal, but a snack, but those lines are blurred around here so call it whatever you want. Based on the chicken tortilla meal, I took a slice of natural turkey deli meat (you can now buy sulphate-free deli meat from the grocery store; I believe it’s Maple Leaf Natural Selection brand) rolled it up, and served with (get this) mustard and lime juice for dipping.

Kinda weird, slightly gross, but still…total hero.

Since I’m constantly catering to picky tastes around here, even the smallest of victories is monumental for me! So quick, someone pin a badge on me before I lose this moment forever.  😉

Have any hero meals that you can share…I’d love to hear them.

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Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

February 3, 2012

I was having a huge craving for peanut butter cookies a few days ago so I searched and searched for the “perfect” recipe and alas, came across this one from Betty Crocker.

But seriously, Betty Crocker, who has the time and patience for such a recipe? I am not the kind of person that is going to:

a) buy shortening AND butter

b) make batter then refrigerate it

So I modified ol’ Bett’s recipe and came up with one on my own. I used whole wheat flour instead of white and added a chocolate chip in the centre of each one…which adds a nice little taste of chocolate and makes these cookies look like, eh-hem, boobs. Nipples to be specific. Whatever, they taste good regardless!

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup margarine (that’s one cube if you use the baking cubes), softened

1 egg

1 1/4 cups flour (I use whole wheat)

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixer, combine sugars, peanut butter, margarine, and egg. Mix well together. In s separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients: salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour. Whisk together so they blend well before you add them to the wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry then mix on low until thoroughly blended together.

I used my medium size cookie scoop and baked these on my Pampered Chef clay bake trays. Before putting them in the oven I added a chocolate chip in the centre of each (well, my little helper did this part) and baked for no more than 10 minutes (9 might be better) at 375 degrees.

They come out chewy and not too sweet which makes them the perfect cookies for me. And even the picky one enjoys these.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Soup

February 1, 2012

This was too good for words. So let’s use sounds. Nom nom nom! Mmm mmm mmm! My husband even said it’s a keeper, so I’ll probably whip it up again after we get back from vacation. And yes, it’s just as delicious leftover, but thickens up quite a bit so you may want to thin it out with a bit of chicken broth.

Simone also liked this (she ate the chicken & the pasta and steered clear of those pesky vegetables of course), but oddly enough, she preferred it before I added the “cream” which is really just a roux. I myself had a zen moment once the spoonful of soup with all that butter hit my lips. 🙂

Creamy Chicken Pasta Soup (source: Real Mom Kitchen)

2 boneless chicken breasts (I cut them into thirds)

1 tsp celery salt

1 onion chopped; or 1 -2 tsp onion powder

8 cups water

1/2 tsp (poultry) seasoning

2 carrots, sliced

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 tsp onion salt (or just add to the quantity you’ve already measured out above)

2 tsp salt

(Note: I have started omitting onions and shallots b/c Simone isn’t crazy about the texture, so I replace with onion powder. Sure keeps my makeup in place too.)

Directions:

Boil all of the above ingredients together in a large pot for about 60 minutes. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and slice or shred on a cutting board, then put back into the pot.

Add 2 cups of uncooked noodles (I used rotini since that is what was in the photo) and boil for another 20 mins.

To make the Cream Sauce:

3/4 cups butter (I used 1 cup since I couldn’t be bothered to cut and remove 1/4 from one of my baking ssquares

1 cup flour

4 cups milk (I used a combination of 2% and skim – whatever was on hand)

Directions:

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter then slowly whisk in the flour and stir constantly. Slowly add the milk and blend together with your whisk. You’ll want this to thicken up first, then add it to the large pot of soup.

Keep your soup on low heat (don’t re-boil it once the cream has been added) until you are ready to serve it.

So damn good! Enjoy, I can’t wait to hear how you like this one.

 

Shredded Chicken

January 10, 2012

This is the post that I’m hoping will *change your life*. It has mine.

Shredded Chicken - easy and delicious!

Yesterday I turned two family packages of raw (skinless/boneless) chicken breasts into 8 portions of frozen seasoned and shredded chicken ready to add to almost any recipe. I have a real thing about working with raw chicken. I hate it. Hate the feel of it. Hate the risk of contamination. Hate cleaning up after it. I also hate frying it and adding it to a meal, never seems to taste as tender and flavourful as I’d like.

So I found this recipe on how to prepare your raw chicken breasts so that you can turn it into shredded chicken using your crock pot, then just pop out of freezer and into sauce or whatever you are making for dinner. Total brilliance.

Visit the link above, or have a look at how I prepared mine. Today I’ve pulled out a ziploc bag of shredded chicken and am adding it to my Curry in a Hurry recipe: dinner done and it’s only 1:35pm. Sweet.

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken

12 chicken breasts (two family-size packages; or you can use one which has about 6 breasts in it)

1/2 cup water

1-2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

pepper as you wish

Directions:

Remove raw chicken breasts from packages and trim off any of those fatty, “googly” bits as I call them. Bleh, gross. Layer chicken breasts in crock pot and sprinkle some salt on each layer. Add the garlic & onion powders to the water and a bit more salt, then pour over the chicken. Set crock pot to low, and leave for about 6 hours. This will depend on your crock pot – mine was done after 5 hours, so perhaps prepare this during the day instead of at night.

Once the chicken is cooked and starting to really fall apart, remove with slotted spoon to a cutting board and continue to shred with a knife. Then portion the cooked shredded chicken into meal sizes: we managed to get 8 ziplocs out of these 2 packages. You can then freeze these individual portions and remove as needed, and add to your favourite sauce or casserole recipe.

For more ideas, here is a link to a whole mess of shredded chicken recipes. Forty to be exact.

See? Life changing I tell you…life changing!

Back to basics: Orzo Chicken Skillet

January 8, 2012

I forgot how much I enjoyed this dish, and when Michael suggested we make it tonight for his parents (who have bravely taken Simone for the day), I said, “great idea! Now go get the groceries!”

Hehe. See what I did there? 😉

I posted this recipe for Orzo Chicken Skillet a while ago but thought it would be worth reminding those of you who are digging the warm winter soups and stews right now. It’s a flavourful and simple combination of chicken, orzo, and veggies. I like the different cuts of veggies in this – shredded carrots, chopped mushrooms, diced tomatoes, slivers of basil.

As for the chicken, sometimes I prepare raw chicken, and sometimes I just throw in some frozen roasted chicken that I buy from the grocery store. This is often an easier way to make the dish, then “keep warm” in the crock pot before mealtime. Just be sure to add the tomatoes at the very end before serving as they will get too mushy in the crock pot.

Hope you have a chance to give it a try! Yum yum.

Mushroom Barley Soup

January 6, 2012

Mmm…as good as it sounds. No better!

I made this the other night and although her pickiness didn’t dig into the veggies, she did love the brother with the barley and hell man, that’s a start! I’ll take what I can get, as you’ve figured out by now.

This recipe came to me from Two Peas & Their Pod and I just love how simple and flavourful it is. Even better the next day for lunch. As always, I prepared it mid-day then put in the crock pot on “keep warm” so it was ready to serve for dinner. I also made very few modifications from the original recipe…it’s pretty perfect as is. 🙂

Mushroom Barely Soup

1 cup barley

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion (I used a shallot)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, peeled & diced (*I cut up a whole bag or as many as I can and use leftover carrots for other meals/sauces)

2 celery stalks (same note as above)

1 package of white mushrooms (I cut mine in quarters or thirds)

1 tetra pack of vegetable broth

1 cup water

2 bay leaves

2-4 sprigs of thyme

S&P to taste

Directions:

Pre-cook the barley in boiling water, let simmer for 30 mins on med/low heat. I cook it like pasta – drain it when done. You can do this the night before if you are already staying up to cut the veggies.

Heat oil in a medium pot on stove and add onion & garlic; stir about 2 mins. Then add carrots & celery and cook until soft about 5 mins. Add mushrooms, cook until soft, then add broth, water, bay leaves & thyme. Simmer for about 10 mins then add the barley.

This is where I then transferred to the crock pot, but just for a couple of hours as the barley does absorb more liquid and you don’t want to end up with a pile of mush 8 hours later.

I didn’t cut up the thyme, just plopped the sprigs in whole and let the warmth of the soup take care of the rest. But be sure to remove leftover sprigs & bay leaves before serving.

Another warm winter soup to enjoy, yum!

Potato Leek Soup (happiness!)

January 5, 2012

I’m doing a happy dance while writing this…and licking the last taste of soup off my lips. Oh this was so good and such a BIG hit with the picky one. While slurping down her second helping, she asked if I could bring this to school tomorrow for her snack when I pick her up.

Instead of peanut butter. Wow. Miracle.

I found this recipe on SkinnyTaste.com – a great site for low fat meals. I made very few modifications to this recipe, but I’ll post my version just in case you’re like me and not big into measuring stuff.  😉

Potato-Leek Soup

1 shallot (or small white onion)

1 tetra pack chicken broth (I buy a case of these at Costco)

2 russet potatoes

4 leeks

1/2 cup 2% milk

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp flour

S&P for flavour as you desire (I like LOTS of pepper with this soup)

Directions:

Prepare potatoes by peeling and cubing them. I did this the night before and put the cut cubes in a bowl of water in the fridge so they were ready for cooking the next day. Prepare the leeks (also done the night before) by cutting off the dark green stems and thoroughly washing and coarsely chopping the white parts. If you haven’t worked with leeks before, watch this short video by Gourmet Magazine’s Test Kitchen on how to prepare them for cooking. Finely chop scallop (or onion) and set aside with other vegetables.

Melt butter in pot and add flour. Stir together over medium heat for a minute or two. Add chicken broth (entire tetra pack), potatoes, leeks, and shallot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes. I left it longer because I’m in the midst of sleep training my 3.5 month old so I was stuck in her room for what felt like an eternity. I HATE sleep training, for the record.

So after the soup is cooked, I used my braun hand mixer to puree it thoroughly. Then, I transferred to a crock pot on the “keep warm” setting which is when I added the 1/2 cup of 2% milk. It stayed there for the afternoon before serving up at dinner time.

I served the soup with a baguette and watched Simone dip about 4 pieces of bread into the soup; and like I said, she devoured two bowls of it. I drank mine out of the bowl because the babe was in the ergo and every time I tried to take a spoonful, I nearly poured it on her head.

All class I tell you. All class.

I hope you enjoy this and it becomes a winter favourite in your home!