please leave your comments, criticisms, recipe ratings & requests or input for future posts! comment or email me at with any of the above.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

recipe of the week: filipino chicken

my mom used to make this when i was growing up, and since my husband spent two years of his life in the philippines on an LDS mission i'd thought i'd try it out on him. he said it tasted just like the real thing. it was sooooo yummy, cheap and healthy! even my daughter, who we can rarely get to eat meat, loved it! (if you don't like vinegar, i wouldn't suggest this one, but if you do you'll love it!)

filipino chicken
6 servings

1 5lb chicken, disjointed (or cut into pieces)
1 1/2 teaspoons peppercorns
3/4 cup cider vinegar
6 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 bay leaves
6 medium cloves garlic, chopped

1. simmer all ingredients in a covered pot for 2 1/2 hours at low temperature. serve with rice (i used brown, but white is more traditional) and steamed/cooked veggies of choice. pour sauce over rice and veggies (i did carrots and green beans because it is what i had!) when serving.

crockpot option (more expensive): 4-6 breasts cooked in crockpot on low.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

always say never

i know, the saying is "never say never", but i'd argue that you should "always say never" to cooking with certain food items. and here's why:
  • heavy cream - it's just plain bad for you. all possible nutritional benefits are outweighed by its bad-for-you-ness. it is extremely high in cholesterol and saturated fat. yikes. even if you love a recipe using heavy cream, try a substitute - milk, ricotta cheese to make pasta creamy, cool whip on your pie. i promise. it's worth it.
  • bacon - it's not in the meat group. it finds it's position in the food guide pyramid right at the top - in the "fats, oils and sweets" category. so, i guess that would qualify bacon as a "fat"? do you really need any more convincing? if you have to, use turkey bacon... and only do it once a year.
  • shortening - again, it's high in saturated fat and cholesterol. not to mention, if i were to imagine the consistency of liquid fat, shortening would be it. yuck.
  • vegetable oil - not made of vegetables. read more about my opinion on this here. choose something better. you can do it. i believe in you. this isn't as hard as you'd think. my husband just realized last week we don't have vegetable oil and we've been married for almost 4 years.
  • butter in excess - i love cookies. i even love to put butter on my toast. but drenching anything in butter is bad. popcorn. pasta. potatoes. rolls. even vegetables. break the habit.
  • soda - drinking soda is the best way to gain weight, become dehydrated, loose bone mass, rot and discolor your teeth. does this sound like a good idea? do a test for me. for one week drink water in place of soda and let me know how you feel. you'll be surprised. (and yes, i drink it on special occasions. i'm not crazy!)
  • fried food - another confession - i love french fries almost as much as i love my husband. sorry hubby. :) but i will never, ever, ever, fry anything in my home. ever. and i don't order fried anything else at restaurants. you can bake, grill, sautee lots of things. no more frying. i even make baked french fries at home to kill my cravings. they are delicious!
that's not a long a demanding list, right? just a few minor changes and you can "always say never" to these icky ingredients/foods, too.

here's a great recipe to try. baked, not fried, chicken parmesan and it was the most delicious chicken parmesan i've ever eaten. visit meghan's blog, you're gonna bake it after all, for this and other great recipes. (and the panko bread crumbs in this recipes are perfect. totally worth it. try an asian market - way cheaper than the progresso brand version at the grocery store.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

recipes of the week: kristi's famous burritos

my friend kristi came up with this delicious recipe that her husband loves and we decided we just had to try it! it was yummy and a great vegetarian option!! mmm....

kristi's famous burritos
8 servings

1 package instant spanish rice, cooked (any kind will work - you should be able to get it for about $0.60. homemade spanish rice would be delicious too - you choose!)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 jalapeno (my addition), chopped
dash of olive oil
1 can black beans, rinse and drained
cumin, garlic salt and pepper, to taste
8 flour tortillas
green enchilada sauce
shredded cheese

1. cook spanish rice according to directions. while spanish rice is cooking, add a dash of olive oil to large skillet and heat oil. add green pepper, onion and jalapeno to skillet and cook until tender, abuot 5 minutes.
2. add black beans to skillet and season the mixture to taste with cumin, garlic salt and pepper. add spanish rice when done. mix well.
3. fill flour tortillas with a generous helping of filling and place in a 13x9" glass baking dish. spoon enchilada sauce over the top then top with desired amount of cheese. bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

top with any topping that sounds good to you. we ate ours with a little bit of sour cream and hot sauce for a little extra kick. enjoy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

the rating system

fairly early in our marriage, we instituted a rating system for my cooking at my request. now, this may sound masochistic to some of you who aren't confident in your cooking yet, but i wasn't confident in my cooking at that point either. consider the following benefits of instituting your own rating system:
  • it can help your cooking confidence - it will help you realize your strengths and your weaknesses in cooking so you can magnify the 1st and work on the latter.
  • you'll never make anything (twice) your husband doesn't like - i would hate to love something and find out after years of making it once a month that my husband only thought it was a 5 out of 10. bummer.
  • it gives you a goal - it's no fun to just cook day after day and never have any feedback or anywhere to improve or anywhere to go. i had a week of all 9's once. it was amazing!! what a cooking rush. i felt totally motivated to keep creating.
in addition to the benefits above, here are a few tips for creating a rating system:
  • have tough skin - just because your husband didn't love something you cooked doesn't mean he doesn't love you. he just didn't like that dish. it's okay - just make something different tomorrow!
  • make your system consistent - my husbands 1 to 10 system is based not just on taste, but on how often he'd like to eat it. sushi is a 10 for him and he'd eat it every day (and no, i've never gotten a ten - he's totally obsessed with sushi), but i've gotten lots of 9's that i think hold their own against sushi. :)
  • ask for the rating, and then for feedback - it helps you learn to take constructive criticism. i love to ask my husband what i could do to make an 8 into a 9.
i've been really craving asian food for some reason (making my hubby thrilled to say the least), but i've never really cooked anything authentically asian until this. it was so worth the extra ingredients i bought (and will definitely keep using - i'm hooked!). this one got a 9!!

chicken lo mein
mostly based on recipes here and here
4-6 servings

marinate 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast sliced into small pieces in the following for at least 1 hour:
3/4 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 tablespoon chicken broth

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 lb linguini pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 red/orange bell pepper, chopped
4 green onions, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
(change up the veggies according to what you have - you can use anything that sounds good. mushrooms and snow peas are two others i'd suggest)
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. after marinating chicken as instructed above, combine all sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. in a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch with some of this mixture and slowly add to the bulk of the mixture, stirring well. set aside.
2. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil with a dash of crushed red pepper (optional - may leave out or adjust depending on how spicy you want it) in a wok or large saucepan over high heat until it starts to smoke. add the marinated chicken and leftover marinade from chicken and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned. add your garlic and veggies (the ones above or your choice) to wok. mix well and then stir fry veggies for a few minutes.

3. add the reserved sauce mixture and oyster sauce. simmer until the sauce begins to thicken and
veggies are steamed to your liking (i like them crisp tender, about 3+ minutes). when veggies are done, you may add a few teaspoonfuls of cornstarch to thicken sauce.
4. add the cooked pasta and 1 teaspoon of sesame seed oil over the top of the pasta. toss gently, coating everything well with the sauce.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

recipe of the week: simple turkey chili

i'm back!!! we finished the big move and my new kitchen is a palace! my kitchen counter is ginormous and it makes me want to do all sorts of yummy, domestic things like roll out dough for homemade noodles, pizza and cinnamon rolls.

on to the food. i found this yummy chili a few years ago on this time i stretched it really far and used it as toppings for taco salad and baked potato bar. it was great on both! though i enjoy it as its own main dish as well.

simple turkey chili (pics are the taco salad i put it on!)
slightly modified from here
8 servings

you're probably asking yourself - "does she eat everything with a quesadilla on the side?" my answer - i'm a very hungry bovine, so yes! (almost everything mexican, that is)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil (i omit)
  • 1 pound ground turkey (i usually use 1/2 or 3/4 lb and its plenty for us - and cheaper)
  • 1 onion, chopped (1/2 works fine)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans - drained, rinsed, and mashed
  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans - drained and rinsed (my addition)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (this makes it really spicy - adjust according to your liking!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. place turkey and onion in crock pot. cook until evenly brown and onions are tender.
  2. add all other ingredients to the crock pot. cook for as long as desired in crock pot.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

forcecd blogging break

glad so many of you loved the stuffed shells!

in the mean time, i'm sorry about the long blogging break. we moved! my internet will be hooked up monday and i'll post something yummy and delicious then!

happy eating!

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!