Monday, February 27, 2017

Strawberry Mousse

For tonight's celebration dessert, we're going to try a variation of the filling from this delicious creation.

Strawberry Mousse

Soften 1/2 envelope of unflavored gelatin (or about 1 teaspoon) in 1 tablespoon of cold water. Heat in microwave for about 15 seconds to dissolve.  Stir in 1/4 cup strawberry jam. Whip 1/2 cup of cream with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Combine the two mixtures, stir in a few sliced strawberries if desired, and spoon into dessert cups. Chill.

Note: I forgot to take a picture of the Valentine's Day version, which I layered with sliced strawberries in a parfait glass. When I made it a couple of weeks later, I just plopped a spoonful on the plate, next to a couple of chocolate-covered strawberries (just dip clean and dry strawberries - Wayne prefers the stem to be cut off first - into melted chocolate and let set until the chocolate has hardened again). The sister missionaries enjoyed their dessert, and so did we.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

More Experimenting with Pancakes

Because I knew we were going to expend some calories last Saturday, I figured it was a good day to have pancakes for breakfast. Rather than using our regular recipe, I decided to try a new one to help use up the plain yogurt in the fridge. This recipe was quite similar to the Sour Cream Pancakes we tried last fall, but enough different to deserve it's own post.

Fluffy Pancakes

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup plain yogurt
2-3 tablespoons water

Combine dry ingredients, then gently stir in the remaining ingredients. Makes 6 large pancakes at 120 calories each.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Our First Harvest

A couple of summers ago, Jeff planted an orange tree for us. While visiting at Christmas, Brooke noticed the oranges and really, really wanted to pick one, so we let her harvest the one "ugly-looking" orange. It actually didn't taste too bad, and it made her happy, and everyone who wanted to try a slice was able to do so.
A few weeks later we decided it was time to pick the remaining three oranges.
Not a huge harvest, but to actually have something after less than two years was impressive to me, and the juice was delicious. It will be interesting to see if we get more fruit this year!

Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

Wayne brought home this recipe a few weeks ago and we tried it this weekend. I tried finding his source, but couldn't, so sorry I can't give them credit. However, it's pretty similar to this recipe we tried a few years ago. I imagine it's a pretty standard way to make "fried" chicken.

For The Chicken
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders*

For The Spice Mix 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon celery salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon mustard powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional**

For The Marinade
1 cup butter milk
1/3 cup plain yogurt and 2/3 cup milk
plus 1 tablespoon spice mix

For The Breading
1 cup flour
1 cup panko breakcrumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
remaining spice mix

For Baking
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon canola oil

The Process
After preparing the spice mix, prepare the marinade. Place in a ziploc bag and add the chicken tenders. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but preferable overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the butter and oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven for just a few minutes to melt the butter. Remove and tilt the baking sheet to fully coat with the butter and oil mixture.

Drain the chicken in a colander to drain. Put the breading mix in another ziploc bag. Transfer half the chicken to the bag and shake to coat. Transfer chicken tenders to prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Bake for 12 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve with your preferred dipping sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

* Since I don't buy chicken tenders, I would just slice some boneless chicken breast. However, this time I used boneless chicken thighs cut into strips, and was pleased with the results.

** I tried 1/2 teaspoon cayenne and thought it was a bit overpowering, but of course Wayne loved it!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Cupcakes for the Office - Round Three

Apparently the cupcakes Wayne took to a couple of birthday potlucks were so well received, that even though it's been a couple of years since they stopped doing birthday potlucks, when it came time for the holiday potluck lunch, he was specifically requested to bring them again. So we honored the request.

We decided if his co-workers enjoyed them, our ward family would also, so we took cupcakes to our ward Christmas party as well. It's nice to be able to make people happy.

We even had the missionaries help us decide which flavor was best - chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream WITH the Oreo in the bottom, or cookies and cream without the Oreo half. Unfortunately, I think it was a toss-up. I guess we'll just have to try them again someday!

Stuffed Zucchini

The other day Wayne had a business lunch scheduled for his favorite local steak house (yes, Okeechobee Steakhouse) where he was going to order a giant hamburger. So, we decided to go light and vegetarian for dinner. Since there was some zucchini in the refrigerator, Stuffed Zucchini sounded like a good idea. 

I used this recipe for inspiration, but didn't really measure nor follow the directions exactly. Despite that fact, it turned out to be delicious. With a small bowl of Butternut Squash Bisque, it was a perfect choice for our dinner. 

Basically, slice zucchini in half and scoop out the insides, leaving a 1/4" shell, and chopping and reserving the insides. (Some recipes suggested parboiling them first. I put them in the frying pan with a bit of boiling water for about 5 minutes, but after I had done the cutting and scooping.) Place in a greased baking dish.

Saute chopped onions, celery, mushrooms and garlic in a bit of olive oil. After a few minutes add the reserved zucchini and some chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and whatever else you desire. When soft, combine that mixture with bread crumbs (Wayne thought stuffing would be a great alternative), an egg and grated Cheddar cheese.

Spoon into the zucchini shells and top with a bit more grated cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Avocado Rice with Salsa Chicken

Let's see if I can remember this recipe that we had a couple of weeks ago. I do remember that I really liked it and thought it would be a good addition to our menu rotation.

Basically combine mashed avocado seasoned with some garlic, cumin, lime juice and cilantro with rice to use as a base for chicken that's cooked with some chicken broth and salsa, thickened with cornstarch.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

After Thanksgiving I was discussing side dishes with a friend, and she mentioned that she was thoroughly amazed with something her sister-in-law brought - Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes. She said it was delicious. I was quite intrigued with the combination, and decided I wanted to try it for myself. An quick internet search found a probable recipe. We tried roasting them once before, and while I liked them, others in the family didn't (although they did admit they were better than boiled brussels sprouts). They didn't particularly care for this version either, and I'll admit it wasn't my favorite vegetable combination.

Since I still had half the package in the fridge, when this recipe came through my blog feed, I decided to try it as well. This was much better; the sweetness of the fruit helped hide any of the unwanted "brussels sprouts" taste.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pears

1 1/2 pound brussels sprouts, halved (about 4 cups)
2 pears, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoons honey

Combine brussels sprouts, pears, onion, and olive oil in a baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Toss with lemon juice, cranberries and honey and serve.

Where do brussels sprouts fall on your scale of "Yuck or Yum"?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Omaha Steaks

Wayne loves steak, and so for Father's Day this year I decided to try out Omaha Steaks and see if their product was any better than what we can get at a local grocery store. We've enjoyed trying out everything that came in the box. First up were hamburgers, which we used on Independence Day.

Not sure why a steak company also sells fish, but the Stuffed Sole was pretty good.
The meatballs didn't fall apart (something that happens every time I try to make them), so that was good. They also tasted great.
The brats were delicious as well.
Finally it was time to open the box containing the real reason we tried the product. The 4-ounce portions were actually just right. We're used to giant steaks, but they're totally not necessary.
filet mignon, chicken breast, top sirloin
I like my steaks with just salt and pepper, although the Omaha Steak Seasoning that came in the box was pretty good as well. Wayne still added A-1 Sauce!
The chicken was just fine and made a great Sunday dinner version of California Chicken.

There were also a couple of side dishes included in the package. We tried the "Au Gratin Potatoes" with some broiled lobster tails and lamb chops one Sunday.

And the "Apple Caramel Tartlets" as dessert for another Sunday dinner. They're fine plain, but they're even better with a slice of melted sharp cheddar cheese or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Bottom line? Although we thoroughly enjoyed this culinary experiment, and also enjoyed making it last over several months, we prefer Costco steaks. Maybe they're a higher grade of meat, maybe not, but they seemed to be a bit more tender and flavorful. Feel free to experiment yourself some day and let us know the results!

Note: Here are the current prices (per pound) for beef at our local Costco, just so I can remember them for the future. But mainly so I can remember that "prime" is better than "choice"!

filet mignon (choice) $13
top sirloin (choice) $7
top sirloin (prime) $8
New York steak (choice) $7
flank steak (choice) $7
top round steak (choice) $4
rib eye roast (prime) $16
whole tenderloin - about 8 pounds - (choice) $10
whole tenderloin (prime) $14