Monday, November 22, 2010

Stir Fry Beef

Stir Fry Beef
Being a family on a budget, steak isn't usually on the meal plan. This is a dish that I can fit the beef into our week without breaking the bank.

What you need:
1 pound boneless beef I use flank steak
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 package of Udon noodles (found in the Asian food isle)
1/3 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered
2 cups fresh snow peas
4 tsp olive oil

At least 15 minutes before you begin, prepare the steak. I like to do this part in the afternoon, the longer the beef marinates, the better it will be.

Note: Don't be tempted by the packaged stir fry beef strips. They are very over priced. Just purchase a nice round eye or flank steak. If you have an awesome meat guy like I do, he will cut it up into strips and package it for you. Don't be afraid to talk to the butchers at your local grocery, they are very helpful and can tip you off to upcoming sales.

Cut your meat into slices and put it into a seal able bag.
In a bowl, combine the soy sauce and the wine/broth. Reserve 1/4 cup aside.
Pour the mixture into the bag, press the air out and work the steak in the bag to make sure it is all covered in the marinade.  Set it in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, or longer.

When you are ready to make dinner, start with the Udon noodles.  My family goes crazy for these, so I make the whole package. Follow the directions printed on the pack. You can find these in the Asian food isle, right where you find the soy sauce.

Cut your mushrooms into quarters. Don't forget to wash your mushrooms well! They grow in crates of manure..yuck! While washing, pop out the stem and discard, quarter the mushrooms into nice fat pieces (this is my favorite part of the dish)
Heat up the skillet with the olive oil
Note: you can use vegetable or canola oil in place of olive oil. I like to use olive oil because of the flavor as well as the healthy benefits. It is more expensive, I ration my bottle of olive oil like its gold, but once you start using it, you will understand the benefits.

Stir fry the mushrooms and peas until tender. Remove the vegetables from the skillet, but keep them warm

Drain the steak from the marinate (discard the marinate, never re-use marinade that was soaking with raw meats) and add it to the hot skillet.  The strips will cook quickly, be careful not to over cook your steak or you will end up with a chewy stir fry.

When the steak is almost cooked through (medium rare) add the vegetables back to the skillet.

quickly whisk the cornstarch to the soy sauce/broth mix that you set aside from preparing the steak. The cornstarch will help thicken that sauce to create a nice coating for your noodles.
Add the sauce, stirring it in right away. Coat all of the vegetables and steak.

Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet, coating well.

You are ready to eat! Dish it up and serve it to your family!

There is never any leftovers at this dinner. My kids love the noodles and my husband appreciates the break from chicken. 

I always have a couple fortune cookies hidden away in the pantry for stir fry night, my kids love it, and it creates a little extra conversation around the dinner table!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken Sandwiches

 Teriyaki Chicken Sandwiches
 These are so fast, so easy and so on budget. My family loves them with soup for a nice warm soup and sandwich dinner.
What you Need:
2 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Sandwich buns or rolls (I like to use the Hawaiian sweet rolls)

How to prepare shredded chicken: You want to cook the chicken breast so that it is moist. I like to put a half a can of chicken broth in a pot, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a very slight simmer..just enough to create a good steam. Put the whole chicken breast in the pot and put a tight fitting lid. It depends on how thick the chicken is to determine how long to cook it..I generally check it after about 30 minutes.  When the thickest part of the chicken breast is cooked all the way through, remove it from the pot and let it cool on the cutting board.

When the chicken breast is cool enough to handle start to tear it apart with your fingers (or a fork) It will just fall apart in your fingers. It will look like the picture below.

 Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan: the chicken, lemon juice, soy sauce, sugar, brown sugar, garlic and ginger.  Mix it together well.
 Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Let it cook, uncovered for 3-4 minutes. The chicken is already completely cooked, so you just need to let it heat all the way through.

Pile the chicken mix onto your choice of sandwich buns or rolls. I use the Hawaiian Sweet Rolls because the pineapple sweetness of the rolls are a perfect match for the teriyaki flavors.

I always serve these with soup, in the picture is my Easy Corn Chowder. Check out the cookbook for the recipe for that.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Sacred Heart Childrens Hospital in Spokane WA

On Wednesday morning we dropped Ayden off at Omie's house and headed North to Spokane WA. Angel had an MRI and an EEG scheduled at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. Its a short 2 hour drive up there, which beats the six ours to Portland. The hospital is right off one of the very first exits, so it was a stress free navigation to find where we were going.

The MRI was the first on the list. She had to be sedated for the testing, which made me nervous of course, but she did just fine...until she woke up. When the nurse was taking us to the recovery area, we heard Angel screaming down the hall.

She HATES to have anything stuck to her. She won't wear bandaides, stickers even temporary tattoos. She will even pick scabs off of her skin, she hates it so much. So when we got there, she still had the IV needle in, 2 large electrodes on her chest and a monitor clipped on her toe. And she was PISSED. She thrashed around, screaming and pulling at everything. Finally I talked the nurse into taking everything off, and what do you know she was as happy has could be. She just sat in her bed and ate her goldfish crackers for the next half hour.  She was, however, still angry with the nurse and would not accept the stuffed teddy bear they wanted to give her, she took it back to the counter and left it there.   Then she grabbed my hand and Nathans and hand and told the nurses "good bye" She was very happy to leave that room.

The MRI came back completely normal. With the exception that is is small (because she is very small) it is structurally sound. There are no areas that are shut down or deformed in any way. I was pretty surprised to hear that was the result, but the EEG the next day would show difference.

For the EEG, she could not be sedated, the test measures electric waves in the brain, and they have to be natural. For children, this means sleep deprivation. So we headed back to the hotel for a long night.  Nathan crashed early so I could take the first shift. I had to keep her awake until midnight.  We walked up and down the hall, took a couple trips to the vending machine for cookies, jumped on the bed and watched cartoons.

She actually lasted longer than I did...I woke up at 1230 to find her still watching tv! I turned it off and she went right to sleep. Then the alarm went off at 4 am. Nathan roused her up (while I stuck headphones on with some music to drown them out). She only took a couple minutes to wake up, then she was just bouncing off the walls!  I got up at 6 and went had some breakfast and headed back to the hospital.

As you can imagine, she was not happy about sticking the electrodes all over her head, but I managed to get her to sleep in about 20 minutes...not with out a fight of course.

The EEG came back with some abnormal activity. Similar to the test done last year.  And now we were off to meet the pediatric neurologist , Dr Osterling.

The Doctor said that since we have been monitoring the seizures for the last year, and they are becoming more and more frequent, its time to medicate. I hated the sound of medication, then she told me that the meds were available in pill form, that we can crush and mix with food...Thank the Lord!

The medication is Keppra which is a very mild med, that Dr Osterling uses the most. She says it has the least amount of side effects, where most kids don't have any of them. What we do need to watch for is behavioral changes, if we notice any, we will stop the meds right away and try something else.

So we have a follow up appointment in 2 months..back up the Spokane, until then we will keep on chugging here in Lewiston: Trusting in God and loving it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Easy Corn Chowder

 Easy Corn Chowder
On rainy days like today, I like a good thick chowder. Every time I make this particular chowder, it changes a little. It is a very versatile recipe that allows you to add pretty much anything you want!

What you need:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can chicken broth
2 cups water
2 large potatoes (I use three white potatoes for a family of 4)
1 cup milk (divided)
2 cups sweet corn
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup flower
Tomato and/or bacon bits for garnish

First chop up the onion and potato.

Begin to cook the onion in the heated pot.

Add the potatoes. Let them simmer for a minute while you measure out the broth and water.

Add a can of chicken broth and 2 cups of water, bring to a boil.
When it is boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes

Add 3/4 cup milk and corn. Quickly whisk the flour in the remaining milk and slowly add to the mixture.

Slowly bring the soup back to a boil, while stirring.
Cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until the soup is thickened.

Garnish with tomatoes and/or bacon bits and serve with your favorite sandwich. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Affordable Chicken Cordon Bleu

 Affordable (and easy) Chicken Cordon Bleu

I was feeling pretty adventurous after bringing home a new cookbook....I faced my fear of raw chicken and flattened it out with my non-stick rolling pin...guess what! I turned out awesome!

Here's All you need:
4 boneless chicken breast fillets
4 slices of ham (we use Jennie-O Turkey Ham)
4 slices of Provolone cheese
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk

First you gotta pound that chicken! Flatten it out. I have a nice non-stick rolling pin that is very easy to clean and sanitize. If you only have a wood rolling pin, do not touch it directly to the raw chicken like I did here. Instead lay a piece of saran wrap or wax paper over the chicken before rolling it out.   You want it to be about 1/4 inch thick...

Layer each chicken breast with a slice of the ham and a slice of cheese...then roll them up!

Roll the wrap in the milk, then into a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. (I used some left over shredded cheese that needed to get used up, it worked out just as good)

Lay the chicken rolls out on a greased cookie sheet, seam side down. If they won't stay rolled up, just skewer them with a toothpick.
*I don't have a dishwasher, and washing cookie sheets in my sink isn't easy, so I put some tin foil on the bottom of the cookie sheet for easy clean up*

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes in 425 degrees. They will come out as beautiful, cheesy goodness!

I served them with my home made macaroni and my son's favorite: broccoli and cauliflower. It was a very tasty dinner indeed! Very much worth the touching of the raw chicken!  *Although I have to give my husband credit for filleting the chicken breast for me....that was just too much touching*

Getting Real with God

For nearly 8 years now I have studied the word of God, attending church services, bible studies and outreach events. After 8 years I can finally say that I am comfortable with my relationship with God, a place that I know many life long Christians never reach. Why is that? why is it so hard for people to feel good enough about themselves to trust and accept that God loves them no matter what.   I do know variations of answers to that question, and each one of them makes me feel sad that my fellow believers never reach this place I have found over this last year.

My friend Stacee and I have a bible study every Friday afternoon. Our children play and we get to spend some time together in adult conversation.  We talk about how God is working in our lives as a mother, a wife, a friend and as a christian. We have a study book..but tend to get off topic. But its when we stray off topic that our studies seem to really hit home.

Not too long ago, we were talking about prayer. And how you don't need to be poetic and flowery when you talk to God. Its not like He can't hear and see you all the rest of the day, He knows how you talk, how you think, how you act. He knows who you are...He made you that way. So just come to God as you are, and talk to Him the way you talk to anyone else (with respect of course).  Even when you don't have the words in the right order, He knows what is on your heart. Being honest with God, gives you the most peace you will ever feel.

We also discussed why people only pray at certain times of the day. I found that I reserved my prayers for the dinner table and before bed. Why was I saving up all of these prayers throughout the day to pray all at once? Its not like God has office hours and you have to present a two page essay.

 I would see a post on Facebook from a friend in need and I would think, I'll pray for her tonight before bed.  Why? what was I waiting for? For several weeks now I have made it a practice to stop and pray right then, when I feel like I want to pray for someone or something. I don't reserve prayer for just the times that I am able to close my eyes and clasp my hands (I still daily of course) but sometimes I will be driving in my car, and I will think about a situation that I want to take to Him; I will just turn down the radio and talk to Him while I'm driving.

God may be an old fashioned guy, but He still understands the times. He knows how we think, He knows how we act. Even if He doesn't agree with everything that is happening in the world, He loves each of use and knows just what we need.

God is not this out of reach guy that you can only go to for the "big stuff". I imagine the love I have for my children, how I am there for them for anything, big or tiny; then I magnify that love by thousands and that is how God loves His children....all of us.  

Lower your walls and have a chat. Get real with God, and your whole world will fall into place. I promise.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Toddler Friendly Pasta Stir Fry

"When you cook for the family on a very small budget you learn how to get creative with chicken and pasta. This is a dish that my kids love and is extremly versitle; just add more veggies, pasta or chicken to fatten it up or play around with different sauces...don't be afraid of the asian section at the super market."

What you will need
2 cups of dry pasta

1 or two chicken breasts
(depends on how much your family will eat)

1 TBS minced garlic

1 bag (at least 4 cups) frozen stir fry mix, thawed
2 TBS soy sauce

3 TBS sweet & sour sauce (or try different sauce flavors like orange sauce or honey)

Now lets get cookin!
Prepare pasta according to package directions

Over medium heat, cook the chicken and garlic until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to plate and keep warm *never reuse the surface the raw chicken touched until it has been sanitized*
Add the vegetable mix to the skillet. Turn the heat to high. Cook the vegetables until the excess water has been evaporated.

Return the chicken to the skillet with the vegetables

Add the soy sauce and the sweet & sour sauce, mix evenly

Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet
Mix until all of the pasta is coated in the sauce

Plate you entree....

...Say your blessings and enjoy a meal with your family!

Minty Hot Cocoa with ........Spinach!!

A recently tried a new cocoa recipe from chef Missy AKA The Sneaky Chef. Since I am preparing to host a cooking school series through my churches Outreach Ministry, I decided to start experimenting with some new stuff. 

I liked this recipe, nobody in my family to even guess that I had added spinach! I did make some changes to the order of ingredients, I will make the notes as we go.

First: mix up the "green juice" This consists of 3 cups raw baby spinach leaves and 1 cup of water.

*you need to make sure that you use the baby spinach, when the leaves are still young they have not developed the spinach flavor, therefore you can add this juice to your cocoa without leaving a trace of flavor.

The Sneaky Chef recipe calls to add the peppermint and vanilla extracts to the cooking cocoa mixture..I decided to add them to the green juice:

Add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp peppermint extract. (for some adult drinks you could substitue the peppermint extract for some creme de menthe or peppermint schnapps)

Puree it in your trusty food processor or blender.

Measure out 1/2 cup to use now and 1/2 cup to use next time,
I love these plastic jars from Bell. You can find them with the canning supplies.

Now its time to make the cocoa. I am going to share the Sneaky Chef recipe for the cocoa, I did not really prefer it since I like my cocoa to be very rich and chocolatey, My family prefered the cocoa mixes that we have versus this recipe, or try making the cocoa as it is on the cocoa box.

Combine 2 cups of milk, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 cup green juice in a saucepan. Slowly heat on medium heat. 

Anytime you are heating milk product, you should do so over medium heat, stirring often. If the milk scalds, it won't be any good.  Use a wisk and move across the bottom of the pot, you don't want any of the milk to burn along the bottom of the pot. Not only does it make the drink taste different, but it is tough to wash burnt milk off the bottom of a pot.

Don't bring the cocoa to a boil, just well heated. Pour the cocoa into your favorite mugs and top with whip cream.

Enjoy! My kids drank it up like it was their normal cocoa with a little minty extra.  The second jar of green juice I saved has been added to their nightly cocoa mix. When my son asked me what that green stuff was, I told him that it was the mint flavoring..which is why I had added the mint and vanilla extracts to the green juice. They never think twice about it!

Try it out and tell me how it goes!


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