Thursday, February 28, 2008

Convenience Food RAVE!!!

I'm not a big fan of convenience foods. They don't taste good, they're terribly unhealthy and the overabundance of packaging fills up my garbage can and our landfills far too quickly. However, our friends at Kroger strategically placed the display of this wonderful product next to the milk cooler in the natural foods section, so I decided to give it a try. The product is Annie Chun's Noodle Bowls (comes in various flavors). No artificial ingredients, it really is delicious and cooks up quickly in the microwave, and...the packaging is not only biodegradable, but it's compostable! Take that, petroleum giants! Good for me, and my planet. Cool. Note too, that it requires no refrigeration, so you can keep it in your pantry or even your desk at work.

I had the Pad Thai flavor today and topped it with leftover flank steak and pickled veggies from the Banh Mi sandwiches we had last night. Absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Open-Faced Cream Cheese Crockpot Chicken Sandwiches

Say that really fast six times. Anyway, a fellow mom and internet friend posted this recipe and I decided to make it for dinner last night. The original recipe can be found here. I used Jenn's changes and made a couple of my own. Thanks again, Jenn!!!

Cream Cheese Crockpot Chicken

4 chicken breasts
Olive oil
1 can chicken broth (divided in half)
½ cup white wine
1 package of dry Italian dressing/seasoning mix
1 small package sliced mushrooms
Handful chopped celery
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 8 oz brick of cream cheese, cut up in cubes
1 large onion, minced
crushed garlic to taste

Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with the dry Italian seasoning mix. Add ½ can chicken broth and wine to crockpot and place chicken breasts in the wine/broth. Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours.

About 45 minutes before done, brown the onion in the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the cream cheese, soup, and chicken broth to the pan (and a splash more wine if you wish). Add the crushed garlic and whisk all ingredients in saucepan until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce mixture over chicken in crockpot and cook an additional 30-45 minutes. Remove chicken to platter and stir sauce before serving.

I served the chicken and gravy atop slices of whole-grain bread, as you would an open-faced turkey sandwich.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Banh Mi - Vietnamese Steak Sandwich

This recipe is from the August 2004 issue of Real Simple magazine. It's a favorite in our house. My only real deviation from this recipe is to marinate the flank steak overnight or from morning until cooking at dinnertime. Don't be afraid of the mayo, it broils off in the oven and serves only to soften the bread surface. You cannot taste it and the recipe just isn't the same without it. Being weird about mayo, I have made it both ways. Enjoy (Michelle, I know you've been waiting for this)! Also, I double or triple the marinade to make more meat and also use an entire bottle of rice vinegar and make a lot more pickled veggies so there are lunchtime leftovers for Jon.

Vietnamese Steak Sandwiches (Banh Mi)

1/2 lb. piece of flank steak, about 1 inch thick
1 TEAspoon sriracha chili sauce (found in the international aisle of most supermarkets...heck, I can even find it here in Wheeling!)
4 TEAspoons sugar
1 1/2 TABLEspoons nuoc nam (fish sauce...once again, head for the international foods aisle)
1 TEAspoon minced garlic
1 cup rice wine vinegar
3 radishes thinly sliced (daikon if you can find them, but regular radishes are just fine)
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1/2 medium bell pepper, cut into thin rings
4 TABLEspoons mayonnaise (don't even think of using Miracle Whip)
1 small loaf (appx. 8") baguette or french bread, halved and cut horizontally
6 sprigs fresh cilantro

Place chili sauce, sugar, fish sauce and garlic into a gallon ziploc bag. Mix together and add meat to marinate. Heat oven (or toaster oven) to 450 degrees. Heat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan to medium-hot. Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Toss the radishes, carrots and pepper into the vinegar. Remove from heat, cover and set aside. Place the marinated steak on the grill and cook to medium, 4-6 minutes per side and allow to rest before cutting into thin slices. Meanwhile, spread mayo on the baguette. Heat the open baguette, mayo-side up until the mayo melts and the bread begins to get crispy. Fill the baguette with the vegetables and steak, and top with cilantro.

serves 2

A New Cookbook!

This has been out for a while, but I finally remembered to buy it while at BooksAMillion yesterday. I don't know if you would enjoy it if you're not a Sedaris fan, but if you are, please go get it. Now. I'm a lover of all things Sedaris, though moreso David than Amy. I honestly thought this would just be a spoof of a cookbook/entertaining guide, but it doesn't appear to be. It looks to be very real, just twisted in that snide, nonPC Sedaris way. There are several recipes for Greek dishes that look to be good and not overdone (has anyone else noticed that recipes for a lot of Ethnic foods end up getting glammed up and the simplicity of the original dish is lost, or is it just me?). Now, I have to admit that I keep opening this up and flipping through it to look at the photos. It's like a demented scrapbook. this book because nothing says "I Like You" like planning your dinner party using a book containing photos of Amy Sedaris in dayglo-nude pantyhouse and a '60s housedress...holding a bong.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sloppy Joe Pizzas

This is a quick dinner. It's a nice little twist on an ordinary standby. Kids seem to love it, too. I like the little bit of sweetness the carrots add, not to mention the fact that you're sneaking a vegetable in somewhere. How can that be bad? I served these with 3-bean salad.

Sloppy Joe Pizzas

1 lb. ground chicken (can subsitute ground beef or meatless crumbles)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced onion
1 can Manwich Bold sloppy joe sauce
1 cup shredded carrots (Yes, I'm channeling my inner Jessica Seinfeld here, just go with it)
4 personal-sized pizza crusts (or one regular-sized)
shredded cheddar cheese

Brown ground meat, garlic and onion. Add Manwich sauce and shredded carrots. Simmer as directed. Preheat oven according to pizza crust directions. Spoon sloppy joe mixture onto pizza crust/s. Top with shredded cheese. Bake as directed.