Monday, April 29, 2013

Greek Chicken Lunch

Good Morning! I have a recipe and a lunch to share with you today. I have never been a huge sandwich fan so packing my lunch takes a little more though. Normally leftovers get reworked or packed directly into the next day's lunch. After we finish eating dinner, I go ahead and pack the leftovers in lunch containers. I am not a morning person and if I had to rely on getting my lunch packed before lunch it would never happen. Today's lunch is a dinner repeat: Greek Chicken, pita bread with some tomatoes and a cucumber ranch dressing, hummus and veggies for dipping. 

I am still looking for the perfect pita recipe, these were good, but I have made better. The cucumber ranch was family simple, I made a cucumber sauce, thought it was a little bland so I added some of the seasonings that I use to make ranch dressing.

Greek Chicken

Chicken breast, sliced very thin

1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon mint
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
juice from 2 lemons (or about 1/4 cup lemon juice)

Mix all ingredients in a large zipper bag. Press air out of the bag and squeeze until chicken is well coated. Marinate in the fridge for at least an hour up to 24 hours.

Cook in grill pan until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Adventures with Pineapple

Last week a local store had whole pineapples on sale for $1 each. I love pineapple and canned pineapple is one of my go to fruits during the winter months when there isn't much fresh fruit available. I decided to can my own this year. I went to the store to pick up my pineapples and loaded 20 into my shopping cart. Let me tell you, if you buy that many pineapples at one time people will stare at you. Especially if that is the only thing in your cart! I have bought large quantities before but 20 pineapples is enough to completely fill the basket. I got a lot of stares, a few questions and then someone asked if they could come to my luau. I have found that when people are commenting they pretty much fall into a couple of categories:

1. They are experienced canners themselves and know why I have that much of one product.  
They are curious to see if I am making something that they don't know how to make or don't have a recipe for and sometimes they offer suggestions for things that I hadn't thought of, love talking to those people!

2. Sometimes they are new canners and they want to know how I am going to use it, or they are people that will tell me they want to learn how to can.

3. Some people are just curious!

I have never canned pineapple before. I only bought 20 so that I could see how long it was going to take me to process each pineapple. I learned that lesson after I bought all the citrus that took me forever to process. I had bought this hand little too last year on clearance and had yet to use it. It did make quick work of each pineapple. Each pineapple comes out cored and sliced. I just had to trim away a little bit sometimes on the top and the bottom slices.

The core stays in the pineapple along with some juice that I poured out and used as canning liquid. 

After seeing how long it took, I knew I could do more before the weekend was over so I went back for 20 more for a total of 40 pineapples. I ended up with 50 pint jars of pineapple chunks.

I also had enough left to dehydrate 9 full trays of pineapple slices. 

When I was a child I go go shopping with my Mamaw and was amazed that she always found someone to talk to no matter where we went, she would end up talking to someone. We always joked about it. Now I am that person :P. It is weird people will just start talking to me in stores or in waiting rooms. I am pretty shy and really never just start talking to people I don't know. Kip is amazed that he can go off for a bit and come back and I am talking to someone that is telling me all about their life. 

That always reminds me of my Mamaw and brings a smile to my face and my heart. It's just one of those times that I feel so connected to her, even though she has been gone for over 12 years. So I really don't mind people stopping me to talk, because I wonder if she had a hand in it and is laughing too.

I found the pineapple tool at my local Kroger, but I have seen them in a lot of places that see a lot of kitchen gadgets such as  Bed Bath and Beyond.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blue Cheese Dressing

As were are trying to eat healthier, I have been looking for alternatives to a lot of things that I used to buy in bottles or packets. I make the marinades that I use, I have made a couple of different versions of mustard, steak sauce, dipping sauces and seasoning mixes. I have several new dressing recipes that I alternate making but I believe this blue cheese dressing is a favorite for both of us. It takes less than a minute to mix together and can be eaten immediately, but is even better if you let it sit for 30 minutes or so before serving. I make the dressing as I am starting dinner prep so by the time we are eating it has been mixed for at least 30 minutes or longer.

Here is the recipe that I use:
1 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk (plus a little extra)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2-4 oz. crumbled blue cheese

Mix all ingredients, except the cheese. After everything is mixed together stir in the cheese.

I store my dressings in pint jars. After I get all the dressing in the jar, I will add enough buttermilk to finish filling the jar, leaving enough room that I can still shake the jar.

I am working on learning how to make my own mayo, but I am not there yet. Sometimes it works, but it usually doesn't! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Creamy Hummus and a Kitchen Fave

We love hummus at my house and I learned a basic recipe a while back. Today I am going to show you one of my favorite hummus recipes. I start with 1 can of white kidney beans, 1 can of chick peas (reserving some of the liquid), a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, 3-4 garlic cloves, about a tablespoon each of cumin and sesame seeds.

Everything gets added to the food processor. I only add about half of the lemon juice though until after it is blended. As it is blending I will slowly add in some of the reserved liquid from the chickpeas. Continue to blend until you have a nice creamy hummus.

Using the kidney beans was a happy accident. One day I was making hummus and realized that I had accidently grabbed one can of chick peas and one of the kidney beans. I was cooking with Samantha that day and she was looking forward to making hummus. I decided to give it a go and was happy with the end product. I makes a very smooth hummus. 

Most hummus recipes use tahini and sometimes I do too. The store I shop at does not always have it and it is a little pricey so sometimes it just isn't in the budget. I will add some sesame seeds or sometimes a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. 

Hummus is very versatile and I make it pretty frequently to eat with pitas or as a dip for veggies.

My food processor is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I love it for making hummus like here, making pasta or other doughs and many many other things. There is a funny story about this though. I had never had one before, but I wanted one. I had a good blender and couldn't really justify the cost for something that I didn't know if I would use that often. The first Christmas after we were married, Kip evidently mentioned to his mom and sister that he was thinking of buying one as part of my Christmas. They let him know that most women would not appreciate a kitchen appliance for a gift. He thought different, and I am glad he did because I was very excited when I opened the box! If I had known how many different ways I could use it, I would have probably gotten once even sooner.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Some Easter Photos

 I thought I would share a couple of pictures take over Easter weekend. I ended up hosting Easter this year, which I absolutely love doing. I wish we had a slightly bigger dining room, but we make do. Since we are a little close around the table, I always serve the food buffet style which allows me to decorate the center of the table. I decided to go bright this year! I have lots of mix and match things that I can combine in different ways to have different centerpieces when I have people over. 

My everyday dishes are white and my china is also white with a platinum ring around the edge. I love table linens and the white dishes allow me to be a little more creative with my linens and centerpieces. I tend to buy napkins and napkin rings on sale or on clearance (well, really almost everything!) and I can buy whatever strike's my fancy instead of worrying about what matches my dishes. 

I have a small kitchen and if too many people are in there at one time, someone's toes will be stepped on, so I set up a table with appetizers out of the way of the kitchen. See I am a little crazy with all the white dishes! I absolutely love these smaller "tasting" dishes since they offer a little taste without ruining anyone's appetite. The cups on the left have some homemade ranch dressing in the bottom of the cup and then some chopped up veggies. The spoons on the right have a black olive, a green olive and a marinated mozzarella ball.

I forgot to take a picture of the actual food I cooked though!

 Saturday afternoon was spent dying Easter eggs. I have been dying eggs with Jenna and Samantha since I have known them, it is just part of our Easter tradition now. They still seem to have fun decorating their eggs and posing for photos.

It is serious work to make sure each egg is perfect!

 These were some of the ones without drawing and things on them.

I hope you had a great Easter too!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Making biscuits has been one of those skills that has eluded me for many years. Sometimes I would bake them and they would be okay. sometimes not so great but still edible. Since I couldn't always predict the results, I often relied on frozen biscuits. They were okay and more consistent. 

But then we started eating healthier and I started cooking everything from scratch. 

And I looked at the ingredients on the package of frozen biscuits and saw about 20 ingredients. I knew I was going to have to work on the biscuits or give them up. You can see above that my biscuits have three ingredients: flour, buttermilk and butter. 

A woman that I work with gave me some tips and now every batch I have made has been awesome.

I start with a couple of cups of flour and very cold butter. I slice the butter into small pieces and then cut it into the flour until you can no longer see the big pieces of butter. A very important tip here is to keep the butter cold and if you aren't sure if it is still cold enough, then you can set it back in the fridge for a few minutes before moving onto the next step.

Adding the cup of buttermilk.

It is very important to not over mix the dough. I only gently stir until the flour is moistened.

After it is mixed, I turn the slightly wet, sticky dough onto a floured surface. I will also add some flour to the top of the dough and pat it out.

Cut straight into the dough and pull straight out, do not twist the cutter.

I bake on a well seasoned stone with the biscuit edges slightly touching.

After they have baked, as soon as you pull them out of the oven, you can brush the top of each biscuit with melted butter.

Finally, when I make biscuits, we can eat them and more important, we can enjoy them!