Monthly Archives: January 2011

Baked Feta Chicken

It’s Oscar time! Yay!

Can I just tell you how much I loved The King’s Speech? LOVED it! ¬†It stars Colin Firth. And really, that’s all you need to know.

It was very, very good. You should go see it. Don’t listen to my husband. It’s absurd to think that a movie should have a “Do not watch this film while operating heavy machinery” warning, anyway!

I also really loved True Grit. The Dude is no Duke (and he’s no Colin Firth, though adorable in his own way), but it was still very, very good.

And that’s about the extent of my 2011 Oscar knowledge. Black Swan scares me. Inception confuses me. The Kids are All Right is still in the netflix envelope on the shelf. The Social Network doesn’t interest me… or maybe it’ll be a rental. The Fighter does intrigue me. I do like Mark Wahlberg & Amy Adams. And I never heard of the others.

Of course, I’d be willing to go see pretty much anything if you offer to babysit my kids for the night ūüėÄ

Oh, I forgot one. Toy Story 3.

We took the kids to the drive-in to see it. We all loved it. And, naturally, since I have small children, I wept throughout the ending. It’s the fault of Toy Story 2 that I secretly apologize to all the unwanted toys that get tossed into the Purple Heart donation bag. And now I get weepy whenever my kids outgrow a toy, and my mind immediately fast-forwards to sending them off to college. Sans toys. And then I go find the too-big child and give them a big hug and beg them to stop growing up so fast. And then eventually give into their cries of “Mommy! Stop it!” and go make dinner.

Phew! That was an emotional movie!

Okay, so in tribute to the Oscar nominations being out, I will insert the name of every Best Picture nominee into this post somehow.

Okay, the chicken. This is a kid-friendly recipe, almost like a Toy Story. 3 ingredients that I used were chicken, bread crumbs, and feta cheese.

Ahem…

Baked Feta Chicken

Baked Feta Chicken

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 c. feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350. Spray bottom of 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. ¬†Mix together bread crumbs, oregano, and pepper. Dip the chicken breasts into the olive oil, then dredge in bread crumb mixture. Place chicken in the baking dish. Top with tomatoes and feta cheese. Bake in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Yup, it only takes 25 minutes. Not 127 Hours. Which is good.

I served it over- you guessed it- pasta. I promise my next recipe will not involve pasta! I thought it was really yummy. I think I would have liked more bread crumbs, but my family actually ate it like this, so I guess I won’t mess with it! It’s true, they all ate it! The Kids Are All Right! Here’s what they said:

Sarah Crewe: “I believe that the chicken is okay, the pasta is good, and the tomatoes are bad.

Don Corleone: The pasta, chicken, and tomato is the finest trio since the Three Stooges. Not as funny, but much tastier.

Batman: This dinner gets 5 stars!

Curious George: I like the chicken, I like the pasta, but I don’t like the tomato. The tomato gets one star, the pasta and chicken get 4 stars.

Elmo held up her plate and said, “No! No! No!” but then I separated the chicken from the pasta and she ate every bite of chicken, plus 2 more helpings.

They are such hams when they know I’m going to write down what they think of dinner! They practically write a King’s Speech every time!

The pasta was thin spaghetti with an olive oil and herb dressing. When my four-year-old (Curious George) first saw it, he said, “My pasta’s dirty!” ¬†Which I suppose is why he segregated his dinner.

Separation of chicken and pasta

Still, they had True Grit, and they ate it all.

I’m sorry for that one.

And for what’s coming up.

You see how I am a Fighter and keep hanging in there to find new recipes? I search the web, Social Networks, and try not to take a (Black) Swan dive off my kitchen counter every time one fails. But, really, since the Inception of family dinners, haven’t all moms gone through the same thing?

Next recipe will be something that will warm you up when you are chilled to the Winter’s Bone.

And now I will hit “Publish” and go hang my head in shame…

Oh, before I go, I watched The Kids are all Right last night. Best Picture? Really? It was well acted, yes. It was somewhat interesting. But Best Picture?

Okay, back to shame…

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Baked Mediterranean Flounder

I don’t know why fish gets such a bad rap in my house. Maybe it’s because the first movie that we had to play again and again for our kids was Finding Nemo. I can still hear my now-8-year-old daughter in her sweet little 2-year-old voice: “Ne-no! Ne-no! Yaaaay, Ne-no!”

"Fish are friends, not food." -Finding Nemo

Of course, it hasn’t stopped all the boys in my house from wanting to spend every waking moment fishing (well, every moment that they’re not playing Star Wars Lego on the wii, that is).

"In my family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing." -A River Runs Through It

Whatever the reason, the news that we are having fish for dinner is almost always met with, “awwww… Oh, wait, do I like fish?”

"He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish." -The Old Man and the Sea

I really love this meditterranean flounder. It’s so easy, and very tasty.

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced (or a combo of different peppers)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 TBSP olive oil, divided

3 large flounder fillets

1/2 cup kalamata olives

1/2-1 cup chopped tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes)

grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Heat 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and Italian seasoning and cook for another minute.

Place flounder in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Top with pepper mixture. Add olives and tomatoes, and drizzle with remaining olive oil.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve over angel hair pasta and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Baked Mediterranean Flounder

I served this with a spinach salad with dried cranberries, feta cheese, chopped walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette.

"I always find the fish. Always!" -The Perfect Storm

Okay, critics. What say you?

Don Corleone: “It’s swimming with flavor.” (Insert groan here)

Sarah Crewe: “I kind of like it. Well, not really.” (She tries so hard to be diplomatic!)

Batman: “I like it! It’s really good”

Curious George: “I’m sorry, Mommy. I just don’t like it.” (At least he is apologetic about it! What nice manners!)

And, amazingly enough, my littlest one, Elmo, actually ate it. Wow, something she likes! Don’t worry, I will refrain from making it every single day.

"You're gonna need a bigger boat." -Jaws

So, it goes much like every other meal. The search for that one perfect meal continues. I know it’s out there.

“… to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” -Moby¬†Dick

"Is it real? Do you see it, too?" "We all see it. That don't make it real." -Moby Dick


A Feast Fit for a Muppet

Dinner and a Movie

For my first Dinner and a Movie post, hubby and I decided to show The Muppet Movie. The kids have seen some of the other Muppet movies, but not the original one, and we thought it was high time they see it.

Statler: Private Screening? Waldorf: Yeah, they're afraid to show it in public!

 

The Menu

Kermit’s Frog Eye Pasta Salad

Miss Piggy-in-Blankets

(Doctor Bunson) Honeydew Melon

Gonzo’s Blue Jello with Swedish (Chef) Fish

Fozzie Navels

Kermit: Gonzo, what are you doing? Gonzo: About seven knots!

Let’s start with the pasta salad. Apparently Frog Eye Pasta Salad is a real thing. When I googled “frog foods” to get some ideas (I wasn’t about to try frog legs… no Doc Hopper am I!) lots of hits came up for this salad.

Frog Eye Pasta Salad

I tried this one from allrecipes.com:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 3/4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (16 ounce) package acini di pepe pasta
  • 3 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 (20 ounce) cans pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Directions

  1. In a sauce pan, combine sugar, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pineapple juice and eggs. Stir and cook over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat; add lemon juice and cool to room temperature.
  2. Bring water to a boil, add oil, remaining salt and cook pasta until al dente. Rinse under cold water and drain.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, egg mixture, mandarin oranges, pineapple and whipped topping. Mix well and refrigerate overnight or until chilled. Before serving add marshmallows and coconut. Toss and serve.

Ummm… I’m not sure how to describe this salad. It’s a strange mixture of fruit, pudding, sugar, and… pasta. Yes, pasta. My first thought was, “Well, at least the kids will like it.” My husband said it was okay, but then when I added the coconut he said he really liked it. Something about the texture of the coconut masking the weirdness of the pasta. But the kids? Well, see for yourself:

Sarah Crewe: “Ummm… I guess it’s good.”

Batman: “This salad is really good. But… you gave me too much.”

George: “This tastes sort of… creamy.”
(I could tell by the apologetic look on his face and tone in his voice that “creamy” was clearly not a good thing).

I’m pretty sure “Elmo” didn’t touch it at all.

So, even when I hand them a bowl of sugar for dinner, they are still not happy. Ah, well what’s a mom to do?

Fozzie: "They don't look like Presbyterians to me."

Next, the Miss Piggy-in-blankets. Sorry, Piggy, it’s nothing personal. It’s just that you’re so darn delicious! To quote the great Homer Simpson, “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?”

Pigs in Blankets

I used little cocktail weinies and Pillsbury crescent rolls (cut into smaller pieces). The verdict? “Sarah Crewe” loved them, “Curious George” ate them but didn’t seem too impressed, “Batman” loved them, but especially loved the “pigs” and “Elmo” ate the blankets. (And so between the two, you see, they licked their platters clean, haha!)

Chef: Gersh gurndy morn-dee burn-dee, burn-dee, flip-flip-flip-flip-flip-flip-flip-flip-flip.

The kids had the most fun with dessert. Really???? But that’s soooo unusual!!! (She says with a slightly sarcastic tone).

 

Blue Jello with Swedish (Chef) Fish

Oh, and my husband made the kids Fozzie Navels, which have absolutely nothing to do with Fuzzy Navels, except that they were garnished with an orange slice. I wanted to make them a special drink, and I wanted to use Fozzie somehow, because I love Fozzie, so I named it a Fozzie Navel. I don’t even remember what was in it.

Uh-oh. I¬†thought it was virgin. Hmmm… no wonder the kids were acting all loopy!

Kermit: Bear left. Fozzie: Right, frog!

Just kidding! Wacka, wacka! It was just root beer and grenadine. And an orange slice. I had a plain old root beer, which “Elmo” later picked up and tried to drink and spilled ¬†all over herself and a basket of toys. Sigh.

Kermit: You may serve us now, please. Waiter: Oh... may I?

The drinks may have been virgin, but I will say, that whoever does not believe in the age old phenomenon known as the Sugar Rush, has obviously not seen my kids after eating a dinner consisting mostly of sugar. Whoa, baby! The littlest one was dancing and singing for a good 20 minutes before she crashed! It was really very entertaining!

 

Our centerpiece

The kids table... Thank goodness for paper plates, right?

Oh, I almost forgot. How did the kids like the movie? Hmmm… not as much as my husband and I did when we were kids. Maybe it’s a generational thing? Maybe they’re too young to appreciate the humor? Maybe they, like Gonzo, are weirdos? I’m sure that’s it.

Although, when I said that it sure seemed like they liked it; they were all watching attentively, my four-year-old, rather indignantly, replied, “Mommy! We were NOT watching attentively! I don’t even know what ‘attentively’ means!”

Humph. I stand corrected.

Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending...

Well, folks, that’s it for this edition of “Dinner and a Movie.” Join me next time as we…

Oh, who am I kidding? I barely know what’s happening tomorrow, let alone what the next Dinner and a Movie will be! It will be a surprise to us all!

Animal: Go home! Go home! Bye-bye!

 

 

 

 

Easy Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

One time I took a package of boneless chicken breasts out of the freezer, dropped the whole frozen block into the crockpot, dumped a jar of pasta sauce over it, and cooked it all day. My husband STILL talks about how good that meal was. Go figure! No more slaving away at a hot stove all day for me!

I made the same meal tonight, but decided to fancy it up a bit for the blog. And by “fancy it up,” I mean I added a pepper and an onion. I know, I know! But before you go calling Giada to suggest I do a regular guest spot on her show, let’s wait and see how it turns out!

Ingredients:
4 boneless chicken breasts
24 oz jar of pasta sauce
1 medium onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Directions:
Put everything in the slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours on low.

Phew! I need a rest from all that typing. You probably need one, too, from all that reading. Grab a glass of wine and I’ll meet you back here in a few.

That’s better. Now, I should mention a few things. When the chicken is finished cooking, shred it into pieces and serve over pasta, or rice if you’re a weirdo (Just kidding about the weirdo part… I just don’t like rice, myself). While the pasta is cooking, play your favorite Dean Martin CD. It’s crucial to the cooking process. If you don’t have a favorite Dean Martin CD, I suppose Frank will have to do. And if you don’t have a Frank Sinatra CD, then what is wrong with you? (just kidding, again. Gee, am I making friends yet?)

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

Oh, and one other thing. Whatever you do, DO NOT tell this guy that I used sauce from a jar!

I don’t want to have to sleep with the fishes tonight!

 

Okay, so what did the critics think?

Well, two of the five critics don’t like tomato sauce at all. They agree with this guy:

But amazingly enough, they ate their miniscule bit of chicken that I gave them without complaint. Their thoughts:

Sarah Crewe: “Well… it’s okay”

Curious George: “I didn’t really like it Mommy” But he did eat his weight in plain spaghetti. As I was cooking, he walked in and said, “Mommy, my amazing sense of smell tells me we are having pasta for dinner!”

And the other, sauce-loving critics:

Batman: “This is GREAT!!!”

Don Corleone: “This chicken did not die in vain.”

and finally,

Elmo: “WAAAUGH!!”¬†And then, too, ate her weight in spaghetti.

Oh, and for dessert, we had Slow Cooker¬†Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake.¬†I didn’t have to ask the critics what they thought of that. As the Dessert Hush fell over the table, I could tell it pleased them greatly.

Buona Notte!

Oh, and by the way, I wouldn’t want to work with Giada, anyway. I wouldn’t want her to be intimidated by my beauty ūüėČ

 

 

Chipotle Pork Chimichangas

So, what do I do with all that leftover pork and sauerkraut that my kids wouldn’t eat? Make chimichangas, of course!

I’ve never made chimichangas before, but I do enjoy saying chimichangas.

Chimi-CHAN-gas!

"Do you have anything here besides Mexican food?" -The Three Amigos

 

Ingredients:

Note: The onions, peppers, and brown sugar are enough for 2 chimichangas. I didn’t give this mixture to the kids, because it’s very spicy. They had theirs with plain pork.

about 2 cups cooked pork, chopped or in strips
olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced thin
1 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
6 large, burrito size tortillas (or 1 per person)
1/3- 1/2 cup refried beans
3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 cup cooked rice (I happened to have leftover rice in the fridge. I probably wouldn’t have cooked rice just for this recipe).
canola oil for frying
Lettuce, sour cream, enchilada sauce, salsa… whatever toppings you like

Directions:

Saute onions in olive oil for about 15 minutes, or until very soft. Add chipotle pepper and brown sugar and continue sauteing for another 5 minutes or until the onions are as done as you like. We like ours very well done. Add the pork and heat through.

Warm tortillas up a little so they’re softer and easier to handle. Spread about 1 tablespoon of refried beans in the center of each tortilla. Top with about 1/4 cup of the pork mixture. Add 1-2 tablespoons cheese, and a little rice. These measurements are flexible. Add more or less as you see fit.

Fold up the bottom of each tortilla, then the sides (nice and tight, like you’re swaddling a cute little newborn instead of a spicy chimichanga) and finally fold down the top.

Heat canola oil in a deep frying pan. I didn’t measure how much. Maybe 1/2 cup? Gently place 2 tortillas at a time into the pan, folds facing down. Fry a few minutes on each side, or until as done as you like. Carefully remove from the pan and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Serve on a bed of lettuce with sour cream and enchilada sauce or salsa.

Chimi-CHAN-ga

“I like these guys. They are funny guys! Just kill one of them.” -The Three Amigos

So a chimichanga is basically a burrito fried in oil. Everything is made better by frying it in oil. I’m not sure how this meal fit into my New Year’s Resolution to finally lose that baby(ies) weight, but that’s another topic for another day!

"IN-famous is when you're more than famous." -The Three Amigos

In case you’re wondering, I did try to remove all traces of sauerkraut from the pork before making this recipe. That’s why I did the chipotle… I wanted to try to mask the sauerkraut as much as possible! I think it worked. It really transformed the meat.

"No! We will not die like dogs! We will fight like lions!" -The Three Amigos

I really liked this dinner a lot, and so did “Don Vito Corleone.” He said it was amazing. Cool! Here’s what the rest of the gang thought:

Sarah Crewe: “This is pretty good. It’s kind of like a taco. I like it.”

Batman¬†(whose chimichanga was made without cheese… I’m the best mom!): “It’s pretty good, even though I think I taste some cheese.”

Curious George: “Wow, Mommy, you made this recipe up?”¬†Then… “I’m sorry, Mommy, but I don’t really like it.”

Elmo ate a few bites and then cried. A lot. And then went to bed early because her Mommy really, really needed her to.

Well, since “Elmo” actually did eat a few bites before crying (honestly, the crying had nothing to do with the food. She was soooo tired!), I consider that at least one thumb up. So, 4 out of 5 of my critics liked it! I consider that a highly successful meal!


And… here are some other movies that make me want to eat Mexican food:

“It’s like a fellow I once knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, ‘Why?'” He said, “It seemed to be a good idea at the time.”-The Magnificent Seven

“You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” -The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

“Any more lip out of you and I’ll haul off and let you have it. If you know what’s good for you, you won’t monkey around with Fred C. Dobbs.” -Treasure of the Sierra Madre

What movies make you want to eat Mexican?

Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut

Ah, New Year’s Day.

My second favorite day of the year, after Christmas. I love to sleep in (until 7:30!), stay in my pajamas (and new giant panda slippers) all day, eat leftover party food, and watch the Mummers Parade on television.

 

This afternoon we took a break from the Mummers and watched It’s a Wonderful Life, since I didn’t get to watch it before Christmas. We had hot chocolate (mine with a shot of Bailey’s… in honor of the Building & Loan, of course) and shared the experience of a classic holiday film with the children. Is there a better movie than It’s a Wonderful Life? I think not.

Another tradition in my family is pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s Day dinner. According to PA Dutch tradition, this dish brings good luck & prosperity when eaten on January 1. I make mine in the slow cooker, which is super easy:

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, sliced

2 large cans sauerkraut, undrained

black pepper to taste

4-5 lb pork roast

1/4 cup brown sugar

Directions:

Layer the sliced onions in the bottom of the crock. Empty one can of  sauerkraut on top of the onion, and sprinkle on black pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp). Place the pork roast on top, and then pour the other can of  sauerkraut over the pork. Top with brown sugar. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours.

I usually add caraway seed, but I didn’t have any this time, and I was too cheap to buy it didn’t think it needed it. ¬†A lot of people add chopped apples to theirs, but personally, I don’t like fruit cooked with meat, so instead I served chunky applesauce on the side.

We also have mashed potatoes and rye bread (there’s the caraway!)

I really like this meal. I always do. Let’s see what the critics had to say:

“Sarah Crewe” says: It’s pretty good. I can see why it’s called ‘sauerkraut’ because it tastes sour.

“Batman” says: It’s too sour. I don’t really like it. But I like the meat.

“Curious George” says: I don’t think I should eat sauerkraut because my belly hurts. I think my belly hurts because that movie was so long.

“Elmo” spit out the sauerkraut and ate only applesauce.

“Don Vito Corleone” says: It’s great, I love it. Can I have seconds?

So my first post/meal wasn’t a huge success, but the way my family eats, it wasn’t a huge failure, either.

Happy New Year!