Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Chicken and Dumpling Slow Cooker soup

This is a great soup for the starting to get cold nights. It did seem to require more work than most slow cooker soups and tasted more like a pot pie soup but it was still yummy and delicious!
We will likely make it again.

Original Recipe: http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a53818/easy-crockpot-chicken-and-dumplings-recipe/

Served



Cooked! 


Ingredients:


1 onion, chopped
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. oregano
salt
ground black pepper
2 cans cream of chicken soup
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk

Directions:

1. Add chopped onion in an even layer in the bottom of the slow cooker and place chicken breasts on top. Add oregano, salt and pepper.
2. Pour soup and chicken broth on top then add the thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through.
3. Add in the celery, carrots, peas and garlic.
4. Combine bisquick mix with milk and mix until a soft dough forms.
5. Drop teaspoons sized bits of dough into the hot slow cooker mixture.
6. Cook on high for another 1-2 hours.
7. Serve. 

What we liked:

It was good!

What we didn't like:

It was like a two step slow cooker dish, unlike most where you just put it in and leave it alone it needed more work halfway through. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He preferred chicken nuggets. Astrid was intrigued by it, until her brother had nuggets, then all had to change. 

Next time:

Myabe try the not-slow cooker version of this. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Baked Acorn Squash with Pistachios, Pears and Herbs

Total Fall dish. This looks pretty, is quick and easy to make and the blend of flavors is pretty spectacular as well. It is HUGE though. We only made one acorn squash, and a half an acorn squash is a lot for someone to eat. Just saying :) We also overfilled ours, but the more the better! We used mint and rosemary from our garden, and next time, we might tone down on the rosemary a little.

We got the recipe for this one also from the Costco Magazine, unfortunately, I am not sure which edition as that is not on my sheet that we tore out of the magazine.

This looks beautiful and tastes great as well!
Ready to Eat!

Yum

Here's a picture from this side

This is the stuffing

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash
4 teaspoons olive oil
2/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup pistachio nuts, shelled and cut in half
1 red pear, cored and diced into cubes
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons red or white wine vinegar (we used white since we didn't have red)
4 sprigs thyme (we used dried because we didn't have any fresh on hand)
2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
10 leaves mint, finely chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F
2. Slice squash in half vertically and remove seeds. Place rind down, on a baking dish
3. Combine half of  the oil (2 teaspoons), half the salt and half the pepper in a small bowl and using  a brush, brush on the squash.
4. Bake for 35-40 minutes until soft. (we used a fork to check it)
5. In a bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients.
6. Divide the filling among the squash halves and put in under broiler for about 3 minutes until golden. 

What we liked:

This was so much FUN to make!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was fun, and very different. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

This didn't warrant his attention. Astrid, however, liked the squash and the sweet/savory filling a lot. Kaspian enjoyed the pistachio nuts alone. 

Next time:

No changes. 

Spiced Carrots with Lime Garlic Chicken and Risotto

It's Fall!

The carrots for this dish was the new recipe. The chicken we kind of just made up, marinating a couple of hours in advance and the risotto, we cheated, and just made out of a box. It was a good quick meal. The carrots were so yummy!
The carrots recipe we got from Costco October 2017 page 37 magazine.

Plated

Lime Garlic Chicken

Spiced Carrots

Ingredients:

Carrots:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 large carrots halved and cut into similar sized pieces
1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4-1 teaspoons ground corriander
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh mint
salt and pepper

Chicken:
3 chicken breasts
half a head of garlic, peeled and cloves sliced
juice of two lemons
zest of two lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
a splash of white wine

Directions:

Carrots:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400F.
2. Add oil to to a large saute pan. When heated, add carrots and cook for about 5 minutes until carrots start to get browned. Add cumin and coriander and stir.
3. Deglaze pan with lemon juice and put carrots and juices into a baking dish. Add water and cover with foil.
4. Cook for about 25-30 minutes.
5. Remove carrots from the oven and drain any remaining water and sprinkle mint. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chicken:
1. Place chicken in a baking dish and pour the rest of the ingredients on top of the chicken, spreading lemon zest and garlic across all three breasts. Let marinate for about an hour.
2. Cover with foil and bake at 400F for about 40 minutes until done.  

What we liked:

So good and easy and simple. It was great to try a new recipe for the carrots!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was good. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

he liked the carrots, so did Astrid!

Next time:

No changes!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Kofta Kebabs with Yellow Rice and Veggie Skewers..and Hummus and Tzatziki Sauce

We made some kofta kebabs with yellow rice and veggie skewers. We got some zucchini and yellow squash and cucumbers from our local farmers market and it was the perfect timing for kebabs! We have some dill that we grew and used that in both the kebabs and the tzatziki sauce. It was a pretty labor intensive meal but it was well worth it.
The yellow rice was a new one for us. It was a different way of making it with the saffron and letting the saffron steep. It was very exciting and turned out excellent. The only thing we would add next time is some peas, but unfortunately, we had none on hand at this time. We left the cinnamon out of the rice because it didn't sound that good and Alona is not a fan of cinnamon, especially in non-sweet dishes. Also, we used our multi-cooker to make the rice - just because we love that it cooks it perfectly every time and we do not have to babysit it!
We actually added cinnamon to the kebabs and think that it was a mistake and it should definitely be left out next time.

Original recipes:
Yellow Rice: http://www.mypersiankitchen.com/mena-cooking-club-yellow-rice/
Kofta Kebabs and Tzatziki: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/kofta-kebabs-with-tzatziki-recipe-2118052

Plated!

Fresh off the grill!

Tzatziki

Hummus

Yellow Rice

Ready to grill!

Ingredients:

Yellow Rice:
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 cups rice - washed and rinsed
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 generous pinch of saffron
3 1/2 cups hot water
5 cardamom pods
Salt

Kebabs:
6 cloves garlic
1.5 tablespoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1.5 pound ground beef
6 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped dill
1.5 tablespoon ground coriander
1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon - OMIT NEXT TIME!!!!!
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Freshly ground black pepper

Grilled flat bread - we used the mini naans from Costco

Tzatziki Sauce:
2 cups sour cream
1 medium cucumber, peeled, and shredded on a grater
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill finely chopped

Directions:

Yellow Rice:
1. Boil about 4 cups of water.
2. Very lightly crush the 5 cardamom pods in a mortar with a pestle. Do not squish them apart, just enough for the pods to slightly open. Take them out and put them aside.
3. Crush saffron with a pinch of salt in the mortar with a pestle until it is a fine powder.
4. Add about 2 tablespoons of water to the saffron salt mixture and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
5. Pour sunflower oil into the rice cooker and set it to "White Rice".
6. After the oil warms up, add the turmeric and let it cook for about a minute.
7. Add the rinsed and drained rice, cardamom, and brewed saffron. Add some salt. Add about 3.5 cups of the hot water.
8. Mix everything, close the rice cooker and let it cook!

Kofta Kebabs:
1. Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear mixture to a coarse paste. Mix the paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt with the meat, onion, dill, and spices.
2. Make 2 inch oval balls and mold them around the skewers. about 3-4 should fit onto each metal skewer. Using a flat metal skewer works best as these tend to slide off the round skewers.
3. Pre heat the grill to medium high.
4. Grill the kebabs about 4 minutes per side until cooked.

Tzatziki:
1.  Wrap the grated cucumber in a thick paper towel or kitchen towel and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. If you have the time, you can add salt and let it sit over a colander for about 20 minutes before squeezing out the liquid.
2. Make garlic paste with garlic and salt.
3. Add cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, dill and mint into the sour cream.
4. It is best if the tzatziki sauce sits before serving, but not critical. 

What we liked:

It was a very fun meal to make. 

What we didn't like:

The cinnamon was really unnecessary. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He liked the kebabs and Astrid absolutely loved the rice. 

Next time:

No cinnamon :) 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Aquaponics - GreenHouse!

Remember, that Aquaponics greenhouse we were building. Well, it's up and running!!!!

Here are some updates!

There are plants growing. They were planted on 7/14/2017 and sprouted 6 days later on 7/20/2017.
Unfortunately, there was an incident on 7/26 Wednesday where the water got left on at a trickle and the sump tank flooded causing the 10 or Koi fish that we had to not survive due to temperature changes.

The plants are doing well and seem to be growing. We got a nitrate and ammonia testing kit to monitor the chemical levels. We will get some goldfish hopefully tomorrow. They should be more hardy than the Koi.

We got 33 bags, a whole pallet, of hydroton. They are expanded clay pellets. To wash them, Nick constructed a special sieve to wash off the powder that coats them as that is not healthy for the system.
The pallet filled up 5 of the tanks that we have set up.

























Gnocchi with Cream Sauce and Pine Nuts

Back to our Gnocchi experience. This was our favorite recipe that we had made a couple of times. The sauce is pretty perfect and the spinach and cream sauce complement the gnocchi beautifully. We will definitely make this again.
The first time we made with Parmesan, as you can see in the picture, but it actually tastes far better without it!

For the base recipe we used this: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/brown-butter-gnocchi-with-spinach-pine-nuts
Served!

Cooking!

Close up



Ingredients:

1 16 oz package of fresh gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, sliced
1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, torn
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions, without the salt; drain. If using fresh gnocchi, be careful not to over-cook as they might start falling apart and getting mushy!
2. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts to pan; cook 3 minutes or until butter and nuts are lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil. Add gnocchi and spinach to pan; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Stir in salt and pepper. 

What we liked:

This dish had really great flavor!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was yummy! Doesn't microwave too well though...the gnocchi get a little rubbery.

What Kaspian thought about it:

He liked the gnocchi, as long as there was no sauce. Astrid loved everything. 

Next time:


Hummus

We wanted hummus, so we made it ourselves one day. So fast, quick and easy! Delicious.
We always have tahini on hand so the only thing we really need to buy special is the chickpeas.
Making your own hummus is so quick and easy and it's always fresh.

Here is the base recipe that we used: http://www.inspiredtaste.net/15938/easy-and-smooth-hummus-recipe/

It's great with some chips, or carrots, or celery to dip in with!



Ingredients:

1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Sumac powder for serving

Directions:

1. Add everything into a blender (we use the NutriBullet) and mix!
2. Place into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with sumac powder and serve!

What we liked:

So quick, easy and delicious!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was great!

What Kaspian thought about it:

He LOVES hummus. Even more than his sister. 

Next time:

No changes. 

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - ala Olive Garden

We recently bought some gnocchi at Costco and have been having fun with new recipes. We also have a recipe to make gnocchi, but we haven't quite gotten there yet.

This was a really great soup. It wasn't quite like Olive Garden's, but it may have been even better in some regards. We also didn't like the soup as much as a cream sauce with spinach and pine nut gnocchi recipe, but it was fun to try something different. We can definitely see this recipe as being great for a colder evening or a nice rainy day.

Here is the original recipe: https://therecipecritic.com/2016/09/creamy-chicken-gnocchi-soup-olive-garden-copycat/

Close up

Prepared!

Served!

Goodness in a bowl!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
½ cup celery diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup diced cooked chicken breast (I used rotisserie)
1 16 ounce package potato gnocchi
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In a large pot add butter and olive oil.
2.Over medium high heat sauté onion, celery and garlic until tender. Add the flour to create a roux and cook for another minute.
3. Slowly add the half and half and chicken broth and stir until it starts to thicken. Add the thyme, carrots, spinach, chicken and gnocchi.
4. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until gnocchi is cooked and soup is thickened.
5. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

What we liked:

It was a fun new recipe

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was good. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He liked the gnocchi, although he mostly wanted them out of the soup. Astrid loved everything.

Next time:

I am not sure if we will make it again. While it was fun to try, it didn't really seem as memorable to make again