Saturday, December 6, 2014

Meal Planning : Weekly Eats with Whole Parenting Family {Vol. 5}

We've been making our way through the Turkey Day leftovers. It is quite incredible how many meals can be made from one turkey. Ours was about 8 lbs. but it was feeding only three people (two and a half since I doubt the toddler was pulling her weight as a third feaster).

Steve smoked the turkey over hickory so the smell permeated the entire fowl, including the bones. As I boiled the bones for soup stock, the entire house filled with the smell of hickory smoke. (I was actually alarmed for a moment about what was on fire.) Our soup was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. with the added addition of hickory flavor.

Here's a few other things we enjoyed this week:

Sunday - gingerbread pancakes  served with eggs and bacon

Monday - bean burritos topped with spicy salsa

Tuesday - shepherds' pie : I placed the leftover turkey and stuffing in a pyrex dish and whipped up a pan of mashed potatoes, enough to cover the top. Baked it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Wednesday - turkey soup : made something based on this recipe here

Thursday - sloppy joes in whole wheat buns served alongside zucchini

Friday - breakfast for dinner: omelets with cheddar and ham & whole wheat applesauce cake (oops, I guess I'm serving dessert for dinner -- don't tell my mom)

And, you, what's on your menu this week??

Link up here! Or to peruse more ideas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gingerbread Pancakes

We're moving full swing into winter foods around here. I believe we've already drank our way through four cartons of egg nog. (And they only hit the shelves last week.)

I grew up with a wonderful German gingerbread cookie recipe that has passed down through the generations -- and we allllll know I'm okay with eating cookies for breakfast -- but, in the interest of teaching my daughters better eating habits, I'd prefer to stick (mostly) with breakfast foods at breakfast. Breakfast for dinner is always a good option too. ;)

These pancakes make it easy.

They remind me of those delectable gingerbread cookies. Just the right amount of spice, and sweetness added with rich molasses. You can choose whether to add syrup or not. (Not necessary in my book.)

Gingerbread Pancakes 
adapted from Martha Stewart Living November issue

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. wheat flour
1 T baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 c. molasses
3 c. buttermilk

Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix together. Whisk together eggs, molasses and buttermilk. Once combined, add to dry ingredients and whisk together until just combined.

Cook on a greased griddle or large frying pan over medium heat. Makes enough for about 30 small pancakes. (Great as leftovers!)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meal Planning : Weekly Eats ~ Thanksgiving Edition

To get you in the mood for prepping for Thanksgiving dinner this week, we're sharing our Thanksgiving dinner ideas on Nell's Weekly Eats link-up!

The 2008 turkey that wouldn't cook. (Like the one from 2005.) Don't let me near your turkeys, guys.

This will be our first Thanksgiving with just my husband and the girls. It is a little intimidating being in charge of all the dishes, but, then, I'm only making enough for four (three, really). We're planning on having a little Pilgrim and Indian party to make it fun for the girls (and to commemorate the night my husband and I met -- yes, we met at a Pilgrim and Indian party hosted by the man himself -- so it only seems fitting). ;)

And, yes, we blow dry turkeys at my parents' house. It started when one of my brothers got the ingenious idea when my mom told him to dry it off. She meant with paper towels.

Here is the dinner plan for the evening:

baked brie with cranberries 
I won't follow this recipe to a T but it will be something similar. We'll serve this alongside some multigrain crackers. 

Main course dishes
We're actually going to bbq ours this year. My husband is a pro on the grill and he has the extra large one. So to the grill it will go.

I tend to just do one of the boxed kinds (and will probably do a cornbread one), following the instructions on the back. Exciting, I know.

Not sure yet.

cranberry sauce
Unless I get really daring, I will stick to my tried-and-true simple recipe of cranberries, sugar and water. MUCH, much better than the canned jelly stuff. Do yourself a favor and make it fresh. It is fast and easy.

brown sugar-glazed sweet potatoes with marshmallows
My family didn't do sweet potatoes growing up but they are my favorite (as well as my husband's) so we'll put them on the table this year. This recipe looks amazing.

braised dijon brussel sprouts 
They're in season and a great addition to the Thanksgiving table. This recipe will be the one.

honey whole wheat dinner rolls
I don't often do freshly baked bread (although I wish I did), but during holiday meals, I like to make an exception. These will go splendidly with our dinner.

maple pecan pie
The one we are making will not have corn syrup but brown sugar and maple to sweeten instead. I wish I had the recipe to share with you but it comes from the November edition of the Martha Stewart Living magazine. I couldn't find it on the site but with a google search you can probably find something similar.
Also, a few wines that won't break the bank but are wonderfully paired with Thanksgiving fare. 

What will you be serving on your Thanksgiving table?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup

Here in Northern California I think we skipped straight from summer to winter. One week the temperatures where in the 80s, the next in the 50s. {I know most of you don't consider that winter temperatures, but for us that is cold!}

My favorite thing to make when the temperatures drop is a large pot of soup to warm up chilly bodies. Plus, soup recipes always seem to make enough for plenty of leftovers -- one thing I'll never complain about!

Today's recipe is perfect for lunch, dinner, and snacks in between. A cheesy soup with plenty of protein packed in by adding chicken to the mix. Toss in broccoli and you practically have a one pot meal!

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup 
adapted from a recipe by Six Sisters' Stuff

2 - 2 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, diced after cooking

onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. butter
1 c. flour
8 c. reserved chicken broth
2 heads of broccoli, heads cut off into bite size pieces
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1 c. whole milk
5 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated (not packed)

Ahead of time, fill a large stock pot half full with water and place your chicken breasts inside. Boil over high heat for about 30-40 minutes, until cooked through. Reserve water to use as broth and allow chicken to cool.

Heat butter over medium high heat in a large stock pot. Add onion and garlic, cooking for about 5 minutes until onion is softened. Add in flour, stirring well so that is does not burn to bottom of the pan, for about one minute. Slowly add in chicken broth, stirring well after each cup addition. Throw in diced chicken and broccoli, along with the spices and salt. Bring to a slow boil and cook for 30 minutes.

Add in milk and cheese, stirring until cheese is melted in.

Makes about 6-8 servings as a main dish.

Wonderful served with sourdough bread or multigrain crackers.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Meal Planning : Weekly Eats with Whole Parenting Family {Vol. 4}

It's that time again -- Saturday Weekly Eats with Whole Parenting Family!

We've got a pretty basic meal plan this week. Quite a bit of comfort food and a whole lotta protein 'cause this cold weather (finally!) is making us hangry! (Yes, hangry. This household gets a bad case of hunger anger when our stomachs are growling.)

Food photos are lacking this week, but there's the bbq!

Monday - Bacon and cheddar quiche and carrots (Just a basic quiche recipe -- placed cooked bacon and grated cheddar in the bottom of a pie crust, mixed together 6 eggs and 1/2 c. of half and half {you can use cream or milk too), and poured it on top. Baked at 350 F for one hour.)

Tuesday - Fajitas (grilled some skirt steak, and green bell peppers and onions; grated cheddar; avocado; salsa -- all on small flour tortillas)

Wednesday - leftover fajitas (it's always helpful to make enough in one night for two!)

Thursday - out to dinner with my mom at this wonderful restaurant

Friday - Chicken, Cheddar, and Broccoli Soup with sourdough bread (recipe for the soup to come this week!)

Saturday - Pizza with pepperonis, olives and mushrooms and salad (Trader Joe's dough)

Sunday - Roasted Sausages, Apples and Potatoes with salad (thanks to Laura at This Felicitous Life for the idea/link!)

What are you eating this week?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Butternut Squash Orecchiette with Ricotta

 Another winner on our quest to cook with squash. We don't eat many meatless dishes but this one kept us full and satisfied for the evening.

For those who haven't had experience with cutting up squash, they can be a bit tricky. The butternut squash is easiest peeled first with a vegetable peeler and, then, sliced in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp and seeds, and cut it up. 

Butternut Squash Orecchiette with Ricotta

1 butternut squash cut up into bite size pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly 
about 20 fresh sage leaves
olive oil
1 lb. orecchiette
15 oz. whole milk ricotta
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place butternut squash, onion, garlic and sage on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and mix to coat. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring a couple times.

Cook orecchiette al dente in a pot of boiling water. Reserve about 1/2 c. of pasta water and dispose of the rest after cooking. 

Place cooked orecchiette with pasta water into a large bowl. Mix well with ricotta cheese. Stir in roasted veggies and sage with the pasta and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 4 servings.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Meal Planning : Weekly Eats with Whole Parenting Family {Vol. 3}

I like trying new recipes. (I guess that is obvious since I also like to create them.) Most weeks, it works out about half old, half new recipes. I strongly suggest trying at least one, if not two new recipes a week. They don't need to be difficult. But just something to help expand your repertoire.

Always when you are thinking of trying a new recipe, read it ALL THE WAY THROUGH before you commit. Before you go grocery shopping. There may be a new skill involved that might take more time. There may be an ingredient that is too expensive, so best to substitute or move on. (I really love The Flavor Bible for substitution ideas. It is the number one book all those who love to cook should have.) It is just best to know what you are committing yourself to.

This week is heavy on the new recipes (including two I've developed myself). I suppose I felt a bit ambitious this week. Not always the norm. :)

Monday - Beef-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Tuesday - Frozen Taquitos and leftover stuffing from squash (I doubled it)

Wednesday - Butternut Squash Orechiette with Ricotta {recipe in progress...}

Thursday - Spaghetti with meat sauce and mushrooms and green beans (just basic ground beef, sauteed mushrooms and store-bought marinara -- frozen green beans)

Friday - Crockpot Pot Roast with mashed potatoes

Saturday - Chicken Cheddar Broccoli Soup with French bread

Sunday - Pepperoni Pizza {{for the birthday girl!}} (picked up pre-made pizza dough and toppings from Trader Joes)

What are you cooking this week?

Linking up with Whole Parenting Family for Weekly Eats Saturday.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Beef-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is one of the quintessential autumn veggies. It is a treat roasted on its own with a bit of butter and brown sugar. But make it the center of your main dish by using it as a receptacle of your protein and it can really stand out!

The nutty flesh of the squash pairs itself well with Mexican-inspired seasoning in this simple dish, easy to put together quickly on a weeknight.

The squash are roasted separately while the meat filling comes together on the stove. Finish it off with a sprinkling of cheese and a few minutes back in the oven once stuffed and you're set!

Beef-Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash, halved with the seeds and pulp scooped out
olive oil

1/2 lb ground beef
1-2 garlic cloves
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. cooked rice
1/2 c. black beans
1/4 c. crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. oregano
dash of cayenne pepper

1/3 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Drizzle acorn squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place face down in a baking dish and bake 35-45 minutes.

While squash is baking, brown ground beef in a saucepan over medium-high heat on the stove. Add onions and garlic, cooking for another couple minutes until onions are softened. Turn heat down to low. Add in rice, beans, and tomatoes. Mix well. Then, add in spices and mix well again.

 Flip acorn squash cavity side up and fill each with a quarter of the filling. Sprinkle cheese on top and put back in the oven for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Meal Planning {Link-Up}

Mama Nell over at Whole Parenting Family has come up with a brilliant plan for all moms (and dads if you're the ones cooking) to help each other out. She's hosting a weekly link-up on Saturdays for each of us to post our meal plans for the week, complete with recipes if available. (Don't know that I'll make every week, but here's to good beginnings!)

Hopefully, this will help motivate everyone to make the effort, but it also serves as an opportunity to share recipes so that we are not all stuck in the same twenty-recipe-shuffle every week.

I love meal planning as it keeps me from overspending when I go grocery shopping (SO easy to do!) and it also appeals to my organizational heart. :)

I don't really plan breakfasts and lunches to a T like I do with dinners. We just have a few options available for each, and many lunches are simply leftovers from previous dinners. Breakfasts are usually cereal or granola with milk or yogurt. On the weekend, we typically have at least one elaborate breakfast with eggs, meat, and a baked good which I do from scratch. (Many recipes for those up here on the blog as breakfast goodies are my speciality.) If it's not leftovers, lunch will be a sandwich of some sort -- pb&j, lunch meat, or grilled cheese.

As you will see, we are currently making more of an effort to eat seasonally and incorporate more whole grains into our meals. Also, if a meal doesn't have a recipe attached, it is probably because I'm developing a recipe for it. Watch for it later on the blog!

Without further ado, here is what's up this week:

Wednesday - Pizza (with pre-made dough from Trader Joe's) with mozzarella, fresh basil, tomatoes, and chicken sausage

Thursday - Quinoa Salad with Pears, Baby Spinach, and Chick Peas in a Maple Vinaigrette served alongside grilled pork sausages

Friday - Zuppa Contadina with pork sausage and a loaf of crusty Italian bread for dipping

Saturday - bbq with friends -- pork shoulder, sides and dessert {better get on this!}

Sunday - dinner at my parents' house for my brother's birthday

Monday - tacos: typically, ground beef using this recipe for homemade taco seasoning (will never go back to the high sodium pre-packaged stuff) in hard shell corn tortillas served with refried black beans, grated cheddar cheese, guac, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, salsa and hot sauce

Tuesday - Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash {recipe in progress...}

Wednesday - Nutty Barley Salad served with chicken apple chardonnay sausages

Monday, October 20, 2014

Crockpot Beef Stew

We finally had a day last week that didn't top 80 degrees. I marked it on the calendar when I was meal planning earlier in the week. I've been ready for cold weather food for so long, and here was our chance. 

We purchased 40 lbs of delicious, grass-fed beef through Alpine Ranch in Reno, Nevada. The freezer is chock full of a variety of cuts of beef that should last us at least through mid-November with the rate at which we consume red meat. 

I dug out the stew meat a couple days in advance of our cooler weather. When we reached it, first thing in the morning, I filled the crockpot with this hearty stew which I'm sure will have repeats throughout the winter. 

Crockpot Beef Stew

2 lbs. beef stew meat
1 large onion, diced
4-5 carrots, sliced into 1-in. pieces
2 large russet potatoes, cubed
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. fresh parsley, minced
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 c. beef broth
1 c. frozen peas
1/4 c. flour

Place meat, onion, carrots, potatoes, and garlic into your crock pot. Sprinkle with parsley, salt, pepper, oregano and top with a bay leaf. Stir Worcestershire sauce into 2 1/2 c. beef broth. Pour across the top. Cook on HIGH for 6-7 hours or LOW for 10. 

About a half hour before serving, stir in frozen peas and flour, and re-cover the pot.

Serve alongside warm, crusty bread for dipping.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Top 10 Apple Treat Recipes

We're headed to Apple Hill for a visit this Sunday. It's a little late in the game. Usually, we've visited before the end of September, but between the horrible King Fire that had Camino under a blanket of smoke for weeks and a crazy, busy schedule in the Muff household, we just haven't made it yet.

So I've got apples on the mind.

I was browsing through some old recipes on the blog and gathering some ideas for sweet treats to make with the boxes(!) of apples I'm planning on hauling back from Apple Hill. I thought I would compile a list of good ones here just in case anyone else is searching about for something to create in the kitchen with those crispy fruits.

I will probably do some canning too. Apple butter makes a wonderful Christmas gift!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Placer Grown's Crop-to-Tabletop

Every person of goodwill is called to responsible stewardship. An important part of that stewardship, we find, is supporting our local community. By keeping things close to home, we both use the resources close at hand and support those whose livelihood depends on those products being sold here.

A blurry photo of my dining companions.

Our family is striving to implement this more and more into our lifestyle. One of the ways in which we do this, is by patronizing local farmers at our weekly Farmers' Market.

Recently, the non-profit in charge of the local markets here, Foothill Farmers' Market, teamed up with Placer Grown, a non-profit that encourages the public to buy local. For the first time this year, Placer Grown hosted a Crop-to-Tabletop dinner that was held this past weekend at the Twin Peaks Orchard in Newcastle, California. Dishes were made from fresh produce and livestock brought straight from the local farms to our tables.

A local winery and brewery were also present for some delightful sipping. (Although, sadly, we didn't bring cash so were unable to partake of the drinks, but our table mates certainly attested to its great taste!)

Each place was set with a tiny mason jar filled with pistachios. An epi baguette resembling fall leaves was provided alongside a bowl of olive oil for dipping.

After taking a moment to thank the local farmers and volunteers who had made the food, we indulged in a vast array of seasonal dishes which hit the spot on that warm, autumnal evening.

The dishes included baby arugula and kale with angelino plums, mandarin mustard vinagrette and goat feta; tomato salad with red onion, jimmy nardello peppers, basil and balsamic; curry roasted winter squash with fuyu persimmons, pistachio, caper and dried fruit chutney; roasted potatoes with garlic and herbs; grilled beef tri tip shoulder clod with cow camp rub; grilled chicken with mandarin orange grill sauce; and grilled pork Italian sausage with pickled mustard seeds.

My husband and I were huge fans of the winter squash. What a unique flavor combination! The curry was a wonderful complement to the nutty flavor of the squash. The tri tip was seared to perfection. The salad, another unique flavor combo, almost made me ditch the rest of the food for another plateful. Almost.

The evening was topped off with a sour cream apple cake adorned with a dollop of creme chantilly. It was perfectly light, essential for our already-full stomachs.

It was hard to leave such a pleasant evening. Al fresco dining under candlelit tables, accompanied by the wonderful sounds of a three-piece band, our bellies filled with every good thing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Applesauce Pork Chops

Enjoying the bounty of the season, we've begun to cook with apples here like we may never see the likes of them again. It always feels like that when something comes into season. I feel as if I must celebrate it in the kitchen in as many ways and as often as possible.

I love savory dishes using sweet additions. Apples are an especially good pairing with meat. Pork and apples certainly make a good marriage. And don't forget about chicken too.

This dish comes together in about 20 minutes.

Applesauce Pork Chops

3-4 pork chops, about 2 lbs.
salt and pepper, to season
4 apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
about 1/2 c. water or apple cider to cover bottom of pan

Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook about 6-7 minutes on one side. Flip and cover pan with a lid, cooking another 5-6 minutes. Remove pork chops and place on a plate covered with tinfoil. (Or place in a warm oven.)

After chopping apples, place them in a saucepan with enough water or cider to cover the bottom of the pan. (This prevents them from burning.) Heat on high. Cook for about 15 minutes, until apples are soft enough to smash. Remove from heat. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on top and mash with a fork or potato masher until chunky. (Or run through a blender if you prefer smoother applesauce.) 

Plate pork chops and place applesauce on top or to the side, as preferred.

Good with a side of squash. Recipe to come....

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Blog Make-over

Over the next week or so, this blog will be getting a facelift.

As much as I like Chew On This, I've decided to change the title to match with the url. chewonthis was not available when I created the blog so I went with chewymorsels, not realizing that this might be confusing for those searching for my blog. {Blogging newbie.} But I've wizened over the years, and I want to make this easier for you, dear reader, to find me when you need the perfect recipe or stellar review.

I'll be re-doing some formatting, photos, etc. so keep on the lookout for a clean, fresh Chewy Morsels coming to you soon!

Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Banana Breakfast Cookies

Cookies for breakfast?

My toddler asks for them nearly every morning.

Apparently, this is something I did too, so my mother tells me. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as they say. Although this time it might be the banana.

I say, if you maintain some nutritional value, why not? We'll call them cookies even if they are -- gasp! -- good for you.

They're perfect for busy mornings. You can even freeze them and defrost for a few seconds in the microwave if you want to make a large batch. And it is the great way to use up those brown bananas on the counter-top. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a glass of milk!

Banana Breakfast Cookies
adapted from Eat, Live, Run

3 ripe bananas, smashed
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. oat bran
1 c. rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together bananas, coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup. Add dry ingredients to the top and mix together well. 
Divide into 12 large scoops onto 2 greased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes.

Makes 1 dozen.