Ginger and Licorice

Ginger and Licorice
Our cats and Labrador

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Not on the menu for the week.....GF Chicken-Broccoli "Divan" Casserole

So this recipe was not on the menu for the week, but I am sure am glad I prepped the "wrong" ingredients on Tuesday night.

The night that I should have been prepping the bbq sauce, I prepped the "ingredients" for this meal.   Good thing, too, because after shoveling the snow today I really didn't want to make a complicated dinner that I hadn't made before.  In fact, I have made this recipe more than a few times and can almost make it from memory.  almost.

On Tuesday, I spiced (poultry seasoning, paprika, and garlic powder) and cooked 6 chicken breasts and steamed 2 bags of broccoli.  Once the chicken was cooled, I chopped it into bite-size pieces and put it and the cooled broccoli in the fridge.

Tonight, all I had to do was grab the broccoli and chicken from the fridge along with my milk and shredded cheese, and butter.  From the pantry I grabbed my GF bread crumbs, and 2 boxes of GF Cream of Chicken soup.  From my cupboards I obtained one 9x13 casserole dish.  My source recipe uses a 9-inch pie plate, but I have always doubled this recipe, just because that's fewer meals I have to make each week and it's a REALLY easy recipe.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 450.
2.  Spray the 9"x13" with non-stick spray (trust me, you want to that with this recipe).
3. Mix together the 2-12 oz boxes of soup with 2/3 cup of the milk of your choice.  I have used white wine for this once in the past, it doesn't really do anything, so I just stick with the milk.  This time I also spiced it up with the spice mixture on the chicken.  I stirred in a couple dashes of paprika and poultry seasoning.  I did not add garlic powder to the soup mixture since there is plenty of garlic flavor already in the soups.
4.  Melt 4 tbsp of butter (oil of your choice) and mix in 2-3 tbsp of GF bread crumbs.
5. Toss the cooked chicken and cooked broccoli into the greased pan.  To be completely honest, when I make this recipe all in one day, I try to under cook the chicken by just a hair so that it doesn't turn out dry in the end product. However, since I knew I wasn't going to be cooking the casserole the day I cooked this batch, I cooked my chicken all the way through. 
     When I say toss the chicken and broccoli I mean exactly that :)  You have to make sure the broccoli and chicken are evenly distributed in the casserole.
6.  Pour the soup-milk mixture over the chicken and broccoli  and make sure it is evenly covered.
6.  The next step is up to you, either you put the breadcrumb mixture on top of the broccoli-chicken or you put the cheese on next.  Up to you.  I've tried it both ways and I think don't have a preference.  Either the cheese melts and the breadcrumbs get toasty, or the breadcrumbs get a little crispy and the cheese gets nice
and toasty.  You win either way.
4. Put the casserole in the oven for 20 minutes.  The chicken and broccoli are already cooked or mostly cooked, so you really just need to reheat or finish cooking and give time for the flavors to get to know each other.  You also want the cheese to get nice and melty and the breadcrumbs to turn a nice golden-brown.

At this point I started to clean up a bit, because I was planning on going back out to shovel the rest of the snow and really didn't like the idea of having to clean up after my arms fall off from shoveling for the second time today.

7.  *BEEP*  *BEEP* I open the oven to find my golden delicious dinner ready to be pulled.  I pull it out of the oven and leave it to cool on top of the oven for about 5 minutes.
Dish of Golden Deliciousness
8.  Grab your favorite casserole serving scoop and dive in!

The BEST part of this dish after a tired day is that you don't have to cook anything else.  It has chicken and broccoli.  DONE!

I think if I didn't live in a GF household, I might have put noodles or rice in the casserole, or cooked some on the stove, and I have done that in the past, but not tonight....definitely too tired to think of anything else tonight.

Tuesday's Dinner Right on Schedule, but...Guess What? Another Change in the menu! - And notes for future reference....IF I remember...3 meals in one post...

Last night was pork chops because I didn't have to prep anything.  Four pork chops seared on the stove and then finished in the oven covered in onions - cause that's what the recipe said to do.  They came out extremely dry.  Maybe the chops weren't thick enough, but the recipe didn't mention anything about thickness in the ingredient list :(

When I obtained the porkchops from the fridge, I also retrieved a bag of my steam green beans and 2 microwave sweet potatoes.  I poke a hole on the back of the bag of beans and set it aside since the potatoes take longer to cook.  don't turn the potatoes on yet because I know the chops have to cook for a bit in the oven and I don't want the potatoes to be cold when we sit down to eat.

Once again, I remembered to pre-heat the oven  to 425 :)  I also remembered to obtain  a cookie sheet and aluminum.  I placed the cookie sheet topped with the foil next to my cooking pan for easy transfer when the time comes.

The players:
4 boneless pork chops at 4-6 oz each
1 onion, sliced (pre-sliced from store)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1/4 tsp ground sage

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

The original recipe called for 2 tbsp of coconut oil, but neither BGS or I are a fan of the coconut flavor for savory dishes.

Mix all the dry spices together and coat both sides of the chops.  Melt the butter and mix it with the olive oil.  Once the oils are hot enough, add the pork chops
and brown on both sides  Lay the pork chops in a row on top of the foil and top with the chopped onion.  Pull the foil up around the chops and onions and close tightly.

I placed the chops in the preheated oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

I walked the short distance to the microwave with the sweet potatoes and turned the it on for 14 minutes.

While I wait for the potatoes to cook, I clean the pan and set it in the rack to dry in an effort to prep for what I thought would be tomorrow night's meal.

*Beep* Pull out the taters and throw in the green beans for 4.5 minutes *BEEP* *BEEP* *BEEP* Dinner!

Like I said earlier, the chops came out dry and slightly tough even though they were covered in onions.
I added some applesauce to my plate to help with the dryness while BGS used A1.

Once I finished eating dinner, I set to the task of prepping for the rest of the week....

After dinner I used the same pan in which I cooked the pork to cook the chicken for what I thought would be Wednesday's dinner.

I used almost the same spice mix I have used every other time I make this GF Chicken-Broccoli Casserole.  The only hiccup was that I am completely out of poultry seasoning, but that's ok, I have all the ingredients, so I made my own version :)  There were some additions to this "homemade" poultry seasoning, because I couldn't locate the dried marjoram.  I was pretty sure Herbes de Provence had everything I needed, so I reached for the bottle and compared it to my empty poultry seasoning bottle and sure enough, I was right!  SCORE! The chicken mix is poultry seasoning, garlic powder, smoked paprika. salt and pepper, usually, so all I had to do was add the garlic powder and paprika and it worked well.

I combine the spices in this ratio 2 tsp herbes de provence, 1 tsp, smoked paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper.   Coat each side of the 6 chicken breasts with the mixture.   I added 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter to the pan again and turn on the heat.  Once the pan is hot, add 3 of the chicken breasts and cook 3-4 minutes each side.  Once the first three are cooked, pull them out and put them on a plate.  Make sure there is enough oil in the pan before placing the remaining 3 breasts in the pan to cook. Again, cook the breasts 3-4 minutes each side and pull them out to cool.

After the chicken was cooled enough to touch, I chopped it into bite-sized chunks.  As I put the cooked and cooled broccoli into the fridge, I checked the date for the pork roast I purchased over the weekend.  To my disappointment, it had to be cooked today, Wednesday.

I woke up this morning and started putting the pork shoulder together.  I chopped the onion (boy do I miss my goggles), and placed in the bottom of the crock that I had already lined with one of my slow-cooker liners.  Read down a few more lines and instantly realize what I should  have prepped last night: the barbecue sauce for the pork.  It needs to simmer for 30 minutes.  *facepalm*

So all the prep work I did Tuesday night for the chicken should really have been done for the pork, because the pork actually needed WAY more prep than the chicken.   If I had bothered to read the recipe Tuesday night, I would not have sat down to watch tv, but actually stayed in the kitchen and prepped for today.

Note to self: read all new recipes at the beginning of the week.  If I had done that, I would have actually cooked the bbq sauce Sunday when I made the biscuits..

Time to switch gears!

Pull out a small 2-qt pot and grab the ingredients from the pantry and spice cupboard.

Players for the sauce:
1 1/2 cups of beef stock
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
6 oz. can of tomato paste
1/4 cup of raw honey
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tbs dijon mustard
2 tsp smokey paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne

I pour the beef stock into the pot and then add the pressed garlic cloves to the pot.  Bring the stock to a simmer and let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Once the 5 minutes have elapsed, I added the remaining ingredients and reduced the power to a bare simmer for 30 minutes.  It quickly started to sputter and splat, so I quickly grabbed my wire mesh splatter protector thingy and put it on top of the pot.  By this point it's noon-ish, so I make my lunch and wait for the *BEEP*
Once it beeps I turn the heat off and let it cool before adding 1 cup of the emergency bbq sauce to the top of the pork shoulder.  Once that's done, I set the timer for 7 hours and clean up a bit.
Time to sit and start writing.  

Halfway through the time and it smells WONDERFUL!

Time to shovel a little more before the next impending storm tonight.  1.5 hr later.  House smells FANTASTIC! And I'm genuinely starving!

Oh  crud....what's the appropriate veggie for bbq that I might actually have in the house??  I hope it's green beans, because that's all I have to spare.

Next step was to remove the roast from the crock and set it aside....that process sent bbq sauce splattering across the kitchen - OOPS :)  Then scoop out the onions and set them aside.  Once you have retrieved all the onions floating in the tasty bbq drippings, you strain the liquid - I used my Oxo gravy separator - and shred the pork.... *SUMMON BGS for shredding*  While I wait for him, I pour the onion-less juice back into the crock.

 I think I might have chosen the wrong roast, or maybe BGS did it wrong, because he said it wasn't shredding easily.  He did his best though.  Once he shredded it , we put the pork back the crock, top it with the onions and turn the crock back on set to low for 30 minutes.  While the shredded pork was simmering in the juice, I heated two sweet potatoes and green beans in the microwave.

He tried the GF buns on Monday - even though I told him not to touch them - and said he didn't like them.  I had planned on making more - this time with GF Bisquick, but the 1.5 hours of snow shoveling shot those plans to kingdom come.

The bbq  was beyond tasty and moist and I was just too hungry to pause to take pictures.  Sorry.  Maybe I will take some with the leftovers.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Maple-Walnut Chicken: doing well so far, but it IS only Monday

Another late post with no pictures.  Sorry about that.  Maple-Walnut Chicken with Steamed Green beans.

The players: olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme.

BGS walks downstairs and gives me a glare "It's too much sugar.  I told you that already.    It isn't too much sugar.  "What's that green stuff?". "Fresh thyme.  I told you I don't like that.  Just eat it.  hrmpf.
Turns out I added WAY too much thyme :(

And now to finish the grocery list and menu plan for the week.  And try some other paleo recipe sites.

I was rather enjoying not having to search for recipes or think about what to eat every week, but I'm getting a little bored and stifled repeating what feels like the same recipe every 3-4 weeks.

Oh and I can't forget to set the Overnight oatmeal.

I got the idea from Alton Brown's episode "Oat Cuisine" but the figs didn't really peak my interest, but the great Google helped me find a wonderfully amazing overnight oatmeal recipe that has apples as the main recipe but she also lists multiple variations.  I haven't tried them yet, because well, because I like apples just so darn much.  The cherry and pumpkin do look mighty tasty, though.  I have a firm stance against pumpkin outside of the fall season, but I just might have to make an exception for the oatmeal.

Ok, back to MY oatmeal.

I use my small 2-qt slow-cooker so that the oatmeal doesn't burn - again.  It did burn the first time I made it in my 5-qt.   That's why we bought the 3-qt from Cuisinart.

I often think about setting it up before I am ready to turn it on, so I measure the liquids and pour them into a Rubbermaid jug so they are ready to go when I'm ready to turn my breakfast on for cooking.  Into the jug I add 1 1/2 cups almond milk, 1 1/2 cups filtered tap water, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and my recent addition is 2 tablespoons of Pom Wonderful Blueberry-Pomegranate Juice.  I don't notice the taste, but I just know those anti-oxidants are working their magic :)

I first spray the crock with cooking spray so that I can obtain my tasty goodness in the morning.  Next step is to measure 1 cup of Bob's Steel-Cut oats into the crock.  I then top the oats with 2 tbsp of flax meal, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of salt, and approximately 1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg, and 2 tbsp of apple sauce.  (I know the recipe says butter, but I have always made it with applesauce and it comes out fine - in fact, I often substitute applesauce in my baked good when I know it is a suitable substitute).  
After the apple sauce is in, I chop 2 apples, usually gala or fuji,  into approximately 1/2 inch pieces and tumble them on top.

The last step is to pour on the liquid, stir the mix and put the lid on.  I was setting the timer for 7 hours on low, but every so often...ok...more often than not, I would wake up the warm setting was already active and the oatmeal was starting to burn,  so I bought a simple light timer and set it  for 7 hours.  Problem solved!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

So far so good, after a change of course

Prepping for the week, I made the biscuits for my pulled pork today.  I used the recipe from  New recipe to me, and I didn't have all flours listed, so I used what I had on hand.
At this point, I did think of using GF Bisquick, but then realized that there is already leavening in the Bisquik, so I put that right back in the fridge.

I didn't have coconut or tapioca flour, so I substituted an all-purpose flour that I always keep on hand.

The recipe directions are straightforward and simple.
The players for my version of the biscuits are 1 1/4 Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Flour, 1/3 cup Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp Ground Flax, and 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp raw honey, 1/4 cup almond milk, 2 whisked eggs, and 1/4 cup melted butter.

Score 1 pt for me.  I actually remembered to turn the oven on to 350 F before I started mixing!  SCORE!!
1 More point for grabbing the cookie sheet and lining it with the parchment paper!  So far, I'm 2-0!!

I then grab two bowls from the cupboard for mixing the wet and dry separately.  I also grab and a small glass dish for cracking eggs and one of my soup bowls for melting the butter.

In one bowl I measure the 1 1/4 cup of general purpose flour, 1/3 cup almond flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp ground flax seeds, and 1 tsp baking soda (yes, I am well aware that the baking soda is one of the boxes for keeping your refrigerator, but that was the only box I could locate.)  I grab a whisk to combine the dry ingredients and make sure everything is well blended.

In my microwave bowl, I drop 1/4 cup of butter, stick it in the microwave.  Heat it for 20 seconds.   Then 15.  And another 15.  Perfectly melted with no explosions!  While the butter is melting, I crack the eggs in the small glass dish. Are there shell bits?  No.  Good!  Add them to the empty bowl for the wet ingredients.  Measure 1/4 cup of almond milk and add it to the eggs.  Next step is to spray my measuring spoon with non-stick spray and squeeze the honey bear's stomach for the golden sweetness that is preferred in paleo cooking.  Grab the butter from the microwave and add it to the eggs, honey, and milk.  Mix all the wet ingredients together with a small whisk.

Since the dry ingredient bowl is the larger bowl, I add the wet to the dry and then use one of my many wooden spoons to mix my biscuits.  At this point I look at the recipe and realize I messed up by adding the butter to the wet ingredients.  I was supposed to add the butter after the other wet ingredients.  Not sure why, but it's too late now.  Following the directions, I let the batter rest for 5 minutes (pour a glass of juice).  Return to mixing for a few minutes (at this point the batter is a LOT too stiff and dry so I add a splash of almond milk.  Mix twice and add another splash.  Once it is nice an moist I use my ice cream disher to scoop the biscuit dough into 6 relatively even sized biscuits and place the cookie tray in the oven and set the timer to 13 minutes.

While they are baking, I clean the prep station and turn my attention to tonight's dinner.  I planned on salmon and asparagus, but.......

 Somebody (probably me) forgot to get the rosemary for the salmon, but luckily I used my brain and some pantry staples to make a compound butter of 1/2 stick of butter, 1 shallot, zest of 3/4 lemon, and 1/2 tsp of a dried dill spice mixture.

Get out the mini electric chopper and whiz the shallot to a large mince.  add the garlic and whiz again.  Bzzzzzz.  Add the semi-softened butter, bzzzzzz.  Add the lemon zest.  bzzzzz

By this point, the biscuits are done and I turn the oven off.

Obtain the salmon and asparagus for dinner from the fridge.  After removing the woody stems from the asparagus, I place the asparagus on a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil and drizzle olive oil over the green stalks of goodness.

Pause here to take the buns/biscuits out of the oven and then turn the oven back on and set it to 425 for the roasting of the asparagus.

 Then I  grind a little salt and black pepper over the asparagus and proceed to toss the olive oil, salt and pepper to make sure every stalk is coated for roasting.   I place the salmon filet inside a tinfoil lined pyrex dish and dot the compound butter on the top.  I say dot, because the butter isn't quite soft enough for spreading and attempting to do so would most likely break the flesh of the salmon.  I proceed to tent the tinfoil around and over  the salmon.  *BEEP*  Place the salmon on the lower rack and set the timer for 10 minutes..*tidy up a little* *BEEP*  Place the asparagus cookie tray on the top rack and set the timer again.  This time for 15 minutes.  I obtain 2 microwave sweet potatoes from the fridge and place them in the microwave and nuke them for 12 minutes.

set myself down on the couch for some well-earned rest between beeps



Overall the taste was good.  Not remarkable, but not as horrendous as last month when I cooked the salmon with the lemon slices on top of the salmon.  That version came out sour as all get out and inedible.

Sorry there are no pictures of tonight's dinner, I was so focused on just making it and creating a recipe, I forgot about pictures altogether.

This Week's Menu - Well, this week's planned menu

I'm sure we all know that life gets in the way of most things so here's my plan for the week:

Sunday - Salmon with Rosemary and Pecans and mixed veggies

Monday - Maple-Walnut Chicken with Green beans

Tuesday -  Frittata served with soup and salad (Maybe meatless Tuesday if I can get BGS on board...*fingers crossed*)

Wednesday - Caribbean Jerk Chicken - yeah...there will be NO jalepenos...

Thursday - Paleo Pulled Pork BBQ Sliders - not sure if I'll have time to make the buns or not...

Friday - remake of the Chinese Shrimp and Broccoli mess from this week with the changes I mentioned in the post

Saturday - not sure yet :)

That's the dinner plan - For breakfast it's gonna be a zucchini, sausage, egg casserole for BGS and a crockpot oatmeal for me - more on that later.

I was serving the fritatta every Monday for a couple weeks- different ingredients of course-....ok, maybe a cpl months...BGS finally cried out and said STOP with the fritatta every Monday.  So while I search for a meatless Monday of which he will approve, I will rotate the frittata to other days of the week.

If you have suggestions for which meatless meals have met your family's approval, please, please share!!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

At Home Chinese Dinner - Revisited again - with Shrimp -too much salt :(

     The menu BGS had this week had a beef and ginger meal that we had 2 weeks ago, so I substituted the Shrimp Noodle dinner I made a couple years back - because I felt like it :)

The players
Sad part is I didn't read my recipe early enough to help myself this time.  Case in point, I forgot to defrost my 1 lb of shrimp.  And now begins the peeling and de-tailing of frozen shrimp. Cue frozen fingers.  *sigh*  Oh well, we move on.

The players have changed up this time around so pay attention: 1 lb shrimp, 1 10 oz bag of broccoli, 2 tbsp sesame oil 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock, 1/2 cup GF Soy sauce, 1 garlic clove smashed, 2 tsp fresh grated ginger, 2 tsp cornstarch, 4 tsp room temp water, 1/4 tsp five-spice (again, this five spice has seven spices), and rice noodles.

Last time I made this BGS was not yet GF, so I used egg noodles.  I also used low-sodium soy sauce (one of my pantry staples).  This time signals got mixed and the GF soy sauce that was purchased was most definitely not low sodium.  With the soy sauce being 1/2 of the sauce for this dish, the meal came out much saltier than BGS or I liked.  And he doesn't usually mind extra salt.

Before I started documenting tonight's meal, I ran to to add some low-sodium GF soy to my cart.  I think I will also add a different style rice noodle.  Tonight's noodle worked, but I think I would prefer noodles that were thinner and/or shorter.  Maybe something like this soba noodle (a BGS request).

Friday, February 20, 2015

Honey Ginger Apple Shredded Pork - Revisited

     Last week's attempt at this recipe came out dry and flavorless, so I decided to try it again with the recommended cut of pork and more liquid.  I also rearranged the order of operations/layers.  My camera batteries are still dead, so I took a few pictures with my phone.

The players - same as before, mostly: 2lb pork shoulder roast, 2 apples, cored and sliced, 1 onion sliced (thanks again to the grocery store for not making me cry), 1 bay leaf, 2 tsp dried ginger, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 

It's important to note the change in the ginger measurement.  I forgot to pick up fresh ginger at the store and I can't even imagine 2 tablespoons of dried ginger in one dish....

The recipe says that I should I add the onion first, then broth, then pork, then apples, then spices.  I decided to mix it up a bit.  I put most of  the spices on top of the pork this time instead of  adding the spices  on top of the apples and rubbed them in to the pork a bit,  then I put the apples on top and tossed on the rest of the spice mixture.   I put some of the spices on top of the pork in an effort to infuse the pork with some flavor that I noted was lacking last week.  I just hope I didn't end up overdoing the spice.

*Enter BGS stage left* "You didn't add more liquid this time.  We talked about this..." 

Commence measuring and adding an additional 2/3 cup of chicken broth.....

*BGS commentary - I bet it would taste good with beef broth*   "Yes, hon. The recipe said I could use beef broth, but I refuse to mix chicken and beef broth...."

Set the timer for 7 hours.....
And now we wait....

Halfway through cook smells flipping amazing (again) ...almost drooling...almost.....MUST NOT LIFT LID.....

3hrs left -
*ENTER BGS stage left  

"Do you want me to lift the lid and flip it?  If I don't it will dry out again*
No.  Absolutely do NOT lift that lid.   "But...." No.  "Ok.  don't blame me if it fails" 

*Exit BGS stage left*



Lift the lid - apples are perfectly wilted across the top of the pork.  The liquid appears to have doubled in amount.  I call BGS.  He lifts the pork..well....he tries to lift it.  It falls apart in the tongs. *SCORE*.  Scoop out some apples and sit down to dinner.  Have to admit I cheated on the veggie tonight - I forgot to grab a veggie for tonight and there is no way I am leaving the house in this weather.   Thank goodness for backups - aka frozen steam veggies :)

I forgot to take a picture of the finished plate.  I just couldn't wait to eat the wonderful smelling meal.

I can confirm that the change from pork tenderloin to pork roast  did indeed aid to the success of this recipe revisit.  The pork is moist, mildly tasty with strong hits of cinnamon on the top of the pork in certain areas.

at this point in the evening, BGS informs me that he is not a fan of cinnamon with pork.....*sigh* I thought about smacking him, but decided against it.

He cleans his plate, though, and said he enjoyed the meal :)  

Cook's notes - I didn't notice the ginger, but maybe it's because the cinnamon was so strong this time.  Time to tweak this recipe for my house.