Cooking for a family, while making family time

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Mexican Street Corn

Mexican Street Corn

I did not get the big deal about this stuff, it was constantly popping up with foodies. Then I finally tried it, and oh. my. gosh. it’s delicious!! I changed it up a good bit, so this is not an authentic version, however going to […]

Keto Egg Scramble

Keto Egg Scramble

It’s often times hard when you’re on a diet to not get sick of eating the same thing over and over again. Diets like Keto with a strict criteria of what you can and cannot eat make it even harder. Enter my Keto egg scramble. […]

Leftover Rice Bake

Leftover Rice Bake

I love a few staple leftover friendly meals to keep dinners easy but interesting throughout the work week. This one came about with leftover Thanksgiving turkey a few years back. However, left over chicken can be used as well. The real star of this dish is the sauce, which uses mostly pantry ingreidents and besides your leftover poultry everything else you use is frozen. Can’t get much easier than that!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups leftover chicken or turkey meat
1 bag frozen rice or cauliflower rice (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen vegetable medley
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon greek yogurt
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
S&P

Makes 6 servings.

 

Optional add on ingredients:

1/4-1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Drizzle of olive oil

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a small sauce pot heat 2 tablespoons of your butter over medium high heat until melted. Add in your chopped onion, garlic and a healthy sprinkle of salt, sauté 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Next whisk in your flour and cook 1 minute. Then slowly whisk in your stock first, then milk. Add in Greek yogurt, paprika, 1/2 of your fresh thyme and pepper. Keep whisking while the sauce bubbles and thickens. Start with at least 5 minutes and longer if needed to reach desired consistency. I like to use the “back of the spoon” method, when the sauce sticks to the back of your spoon it’s done. In an 8×8 glass baking dish dump in your frozen veggies, rice and diced poultry. Now pour all that yummy sauce you just made over everything and stir until combined. Top with bread crumbs, remaining fresh thyme, drizzle of olive oil and remaining butter broken up. Cover with foil and into the oven it goes for 30 minutes. For a crunchier topping broil uncovered for the last 2 minutes.

 

To give you an idea here is a picture of everything all mixed together and then another pictures with the additional bread crumb topping.

        

I know given the ingredient list and the sauce instructions it might not sound like an easy weeknight meal, but it does come together quickly. Anyone new to making sauces, this is a great one to start with. It’s mild enough in flavor that it’s hard to mess up, and it will be an easy sell even to the pickiest eater. The key to a good roux is whisking. A roux is the base of your béchamel sauce, or white sauce. It’s equal parts butter and flour and a really great cooking basic to try and master. I’ve found you can fix just about anything with a good sauce! My tip for this one, play around with the flavors you add. Paprika and thyme not your thing? Go cumin and cilantro, to make it a Mexican dish. Same goes with the veggies you use, throw in the stuff you know your family already likes. By using cauliflower rice I am able to keep this Keto for my husband, however you can use frozen white or brown rice if you prefer. The real key here is just to make it easy on yourself to whip up a new dinner using leftover ingredients.

Sweet Thai Chili Sauce

Sweet Thai Chili Sauce

I LOOOVE this stuff!! It’s honestly one thing I can say I eat just about everyday. You can find pre-made versions of this sauce at Target and Trader Joe’s, both are pretty good. However, as is the case with most things, you cannot beat home […]

Smoky Adobo Chicken Soup

Smoky Adobo Chicken Soup

Guys I have a new obsession! Adobo sauce!! This stuff is a flavor bomb with hardly any effort. It takes so little of it to really make it the star of a dish, it just has such a deep flavor in the best way. It’s […]

Keto Inclusion 101

Keto Inclusion 101

I feel like so many of us with kids don’t diet or find it too hard to diet. Truth be told you’re probably already fighting daily battles with one type of food or another with your kids. I have one kid who fights me on vegetables, another who doesn’t like bread and a third who likes to negotiate “how many bites” to get dessert. With enough food drama it’s hard to then add diet criteria to that. Let me help! Last summer when my husband decided he wanted to go on the Keto diet, I laid a few ground rules. One, carbs or not I wasn’t letting him give up vegetables. We have to lead by example and I was not interested in a daily dinner conversation of “why doesn’t daddy have to eat his carrots??” Two, I wasn’t going to change all of our meals, I would instead find ways to include him in things the family already ate.

Here you have it, Keto inclusion! I’ve said it before, zucchini is such a staple. Zoodles, replace any pasta dishes I’m making for the kids and I. You can also spiralize other vegetables, beets, carrots and butternut squash to names a few. However zucchini will be your lowest option carb-wise. Zucchini boats act as a great vessel for sloppy joes, tacos, enchiladas, buffalo chicken, chili or even pizza! Just steam the boats in the oven while you make the rest of the meal. Cauliflower rice, works perfect as a substitute for regular rice, this one is tried and true in our house to trick the kiddos too! More veggies all around makes this Mama happy. Side note, frozen cauliflower rice can be found with other frozen veggies and steams in your microwave in 5 minutes! Such an easy add on to any meal. Mushrooms are another way to bulk up dishes without a lot of carbs. Hamburger with portobello buns, Korean beef bowls, grilled steak, chicken or beef and broccoli can all be served over sautéed mushrooms instead of rice or potatoes. Now if all else fails, go for breakfast! Bacon, sausage and eggs are all keto approved. As well as hot dogs (check your package label or go organic on the hot dogs a lot of the brands out there do have carb fillers). Breakfast for dinner and hot dogs are two dinners that never get complaints from the kids around here. It’s possible to keep on your diet and keep the kids happy.

Last but not least when you do crave bread, there are a lot of great low carb options out there. We use the lavash flax pitas, wraps and mini pitas. You can cut these up to make cereal, fry them into chips, and fill the wraps with just about anything. By keeping a few staple inclusion ingredients on hand you don’t have to completely make a separate meal. This keeps your dinners streamlined while keeping your waistline happy.

Here’s a couple of examples of Keto inclusive dinners, spaghetti and meatballs for the whole family.

Spicy Chicken Stir Fry, one over brown rice another over cauliflower rice. This is also a great way to make chicken fried rice for the whole family, but keto friendly.

Remember to always check your labels, 4 carbs isn’t bad for Keto, however, zero carbs is better and then you can eat as many as you want!

This “rice” is a must have around our house, I use it in place of regular rice all the time. It’s also nice to have for bulking up any dishes to fill you up a little more.

Spicy Chicken Stir Fry

Spicy Chicken Stir Fry

My love for Asian food is nothing new to you loyal followers. However, making Asian food at home is a whole lot harder than ordering that yummy take out! The easiest dish to start with I find is a stir fry. They are really versatile […]

Jarred Queso Upgrade

Jarred Queso Upgrade

Who doesn’t love chips and queso?? A fellow Mommy Spicer and I have been known to put away some queso and wine many a nights 😂 Thus this little recipe was born. I really love this jarred queso she introduced me to and I think it’s […]

Chicken Bruschetta Pasta

Chicken Bruschetta Pasta

I always love to end the weekend with a nice big dinner before the weekday rush and quick dinners begin again. This is one of my favorite pasta dishes over the summer when the basil and tomatoes are plentiful, however you can still make it during the off season. Some followers may already know of my love for all things bruschetta.

 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can 8oz tomato sauce
1 can 14.5oz fire roasted tomatoes
2 1/2 cups dried pasta of choice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pasta
5-10 fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar glaze

    

 

Method:

In a large deep skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle your chicken breast with salt and pepper and dice into small bite size pieces. Once the oil is warm, add your onion, garlic, chicken and all dry spices (red pepper, basil, oregano and garlic powder) to the skillet. Stir everything to combine and cook for 5 minutes. Once your chicken is mostly cooked through add your tomato sauce and 1 cup of fire roasted tomatoes. Bring your sauce to boil, then turn the heat down to low, simmer and cover. Let the sauce reduce, covered for 20 minutes. During that time, cook your pasta in salted water until al dente. Once pasta is done save 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta, also known as pasta water. When your sauce is done, add the pasta water to it, this will help to thin it out just a bit. Next stir in your pasta and parmesan. Top each plate with lots of fresh chopped basil and balsamic glaze.

Makes 6 plates

 

   

 

This pasta dinner is adult and kid approved in my house. Making the sauce from scratch does take a little time, however store bought balsamic vinegar glaze makes for a handy short cut. Also the glaze is sweet so it cuts the acid in the tomato sauce really nicely. My tip for this one is a goody. Pasta water is a wonderful non-ingredient, ingredient. After you cook your pasta you’re left with what’s a pretty murky looking pot of water. However that murky water is liquid gold for pasta sauces. The pasta water is filled with salt and starch from cooking your pasta and when added to sauces it gives it a nice velvety smooth finish. This whole process is also know as emulsification. Food really is science!

 

Red Velvet Brownies

Red Velvet Brownies

My husband just had a birthday and his favorite sweets are red velvet cake and brownies. Turns out those two are a match made in heaven. I’m not much of a baker and with lots of little hands in the kitchen eager to “help with […]