Friday, April 16, 2021

N is for Northern Beans or Navy Beans or Maybe Even Nuts!

Back in February or March, I sat down and mapped out some of my blogposts for this April A to Z Challenge. Mark even made a few suggestions. As I mentioned in a previous post, instead of scrolling social media at night I began writing my posts for the month. All of a sudden, I realized that I hadn't done a very good job on this last portion of the alphabet. I've been looking through my favorite recipes trying to decide which recipes to use for the remaining letters . . .and some of the recipes will be a STRETCH to fit that letter :-). 

When I was a kid, my dad was a carpenter and then he was an engineer for the railroad (the engineer that drive the train). In hindsight, I realize we didn't have a lot of money but I didn't really know it at the time. I can look back on some of the menus my mom prepared and I realize that she was definitely cooking on a tight budget. One of the things she cooked was dried beans - pintos, big limas, northern beans, and navy beans. As a kid, I detested those big white lima beans, northern beans, and navy beans. To be honest, I'm still not fond of those big white lima beans. If I was a dinner guest in your home and you served them to me, I would eat them but I've never purchased them. Imagine my surprise, when I realized that I actually like northern beans and navy beans especially when used in White Chicken Chili. 

White Chicken Chili

Ingredients needed:
Chicken breast, cooked and cubed or shredded - (1 1/2 # raw)
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cans Northern or Navy Beans
2 can chicken broth 
1 can diced green chilis
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
minced garlic to equal 1/2 to 1 clove 
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Someone gave this recipe to me years ago. The original recipe called for 2-3 of the larger cans (12.5 ounces?) of chicken breast (yes - canned chicken!). Sometimes I still use canned chicken but I usually cook several breasts and cube them or shred them. We like a lot of chicken in ours so I use 3-4 cups of cubed or shredded cooked chicken which equates to about 1 1/2 pounds of raw boneless skinless chicken breast.

Using a large pot (or you could use a crockpot or even an instapot), add chicken, onion, beans, broth, diced green chilis, and spices. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft - probably 45 minutes to an hour. The longer you cook white chicken chili, the more the flavors meld together. You can always add another cup of water or another can of broth if soup becomes too thick.

If you want to use a crockpot, place all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low all day while at work. If you use an instapot . . . read the directions because I don't have an instapot! hahaha!

What about the nuts I mentioned in today's title?

We live in Alabama and pecans are loved by many! I purchase at least 10-12 pounds of pecans each year and keep them in my freezer. We use them in all sorts of recipes from baked goods to dips to chicken salad. Back during the spring of 2020 when we were not going anywhere (except Mark had to go to his office every day), sometimes we would crave a salty snack and not have anything in the pantry. I would grab a bag of pecans from our freezer and preheat the oven to 350. I would spread the pecans out on a cookie sheet and spritz with a little spray butter (I can't believe it's not butter spray) and a sprinkle of Lawry's seasoning salt. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Enjoy snacking on these yummy pecans. 

I've also ordered large boxes of individual packs of Pistachios, Almonds, and Peanuts from Costco to keep in our pantry for a quick snack. I like most all nuts EXCEPT cashews! I cannot eat cashews.

Do you like beans - especially Northern or Navy? Do you like nuts? (I know that peanuts are not technically a "nut" but I'm using nut today!)

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Moscow Mule

M is not a food item but it is a beverage! M is for Moscow Mule!! Several years ago, we went to visit our friends in Nashville (who we were able to see this past weekend!!) and we ate at a quirky restaurant. My friend was drinking a Moscow Mule and she let me taste it. I immediately ordered my own! Since then, I have loved Moscow Mules and I have tried them in several different restaurants. I even ordered one in Israel but they didn't know what I was ordering. A real Moscow mule is made with Ginger Beer, Vodka, and Lime juice and it is a very refreshing beverage!

As I written several times, I'm on WW and I try to steer clear of sugar. I haven't found a sugar free or no sugar Ginger Beer but I love Canada Dry Zero Sugar Ginger Ale. 1 1/2 ounces of Vodka has 3 points on blue on WW so I use Ginger Ale (0) + Vodka (3) + Lime juice (0) for a 3 point drink. A real Moscow Mule has around 8 points. A Moscow Mule from Longhorn Steakhouse has 11 points. When you have 23 points to spend for the day, it is hard to "spend" that many on a drink.

Also, I only drink a couple of these a month. I'm not a big drinker but it sure is nice to have something easy to make that tastes great!

Moscow Mule by Lisa

1 1/2 ounce Grey Goose Vodka - you may have another brand you like but I love Grey Goose. I've never been one to drink any kind of liquor straight but I think I could drink Grey Goose straight from the glass. It is soooo smooth. I keep mine in the fridge so it is always ice cold.
1 12 ounce can (cold) Canada Dry Zero Sugar Ginger Ale (you might have to purchase another brand - I don't know if this brand is sold throughout the US or not)
Juice of one lime (or lemon when you have no limes!!)

Pour Ginger Ale in mug, add Grey Goose, and add lime (or lemon) juice to your taste. I like at least 1/2 of a lime squeezed in mine. You can even save a wedge to place on rim of mug.

Gently stir ingredients and enjoy. My ingredients are always cold but if your ingredients are not, you can add a couple of ice cubes to chill your drink.

Do you have a favorite beverage that is easy to prepare?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Easter weekend

 I've been writing posts for next week for my A to Z Challenge and I realized I wanted to remember Easter weekend!

We went to the egg hunt sponsored by our children's ministry at church. It was fun to see the girls. Our sweet youngest granddaughter has never been around people due to covid cautions so even though we signed up for a time slot and families were spread out over times throughout the morning, the crowd was the largest number of people she had ever been around. She was a tad overwhelmed! Our older granddaughter (big 5 years old!) wanted to find the golden egg! I'm apologizing now for photo overload.

daughter, hubby, baby granddaughter

son, wife, 5 year old granddaughter,
gran and pops (yes, it was cold -
we never know in Alabama)

and they are off to hunt the eggs

do you want to see the bunny?

She definitely wanted to see the bunny and then
proceeded to cry because she couldn't put
the bunny to night night like she does with
her stuffed animals. Lots of people, live rabbits,
balloons everywhere = overload.

our two precious granddaughters

there was a craft area and this bunny was
so cute!!!!

On Easter Sunday, our church worshiped in a local football stadium. We have had limited number/reservation only in person worship and it was truly amazing for all of us to worship together in one place. The weather was magnificent - so sunny that many had sunburned cheeks and shoulders! There were over 3,000 of us gathered together to celebrate the risen Christ! 

Mark and I both worked on Easter morning (remember I actually work at a church) - he was in the parking lot and I was at the Welcome Center so our daughter, son-in-law, and grandbaby went to our son, daughter-in-law, and 5 year old granddaughter's church. They also worshiped outside.

she was warm in the
sun and took a
little snooze

After worship, we all went to my mother-in-law's house to have lunch together with Mark's siblings and their families.

homemade carrot cake

flowers arranged by one of my
very talented sister-in-laws

little grandbaby saying "cheese"

We also had dinner on Saturday night at our son and daughter-in-law's lovely home and it was delicious and Mark and I played in the playroom with the girls . . .and I didn't take a single photo!

I'm still in shock that my children are grown and we have grandchildren. It seems like just a year or so ago that we were wrangling our own kids to church each week.

Lemon Parsley Potatoes and Chicken Schnitzel

L is for Lemon Parsley Potatoes and Chicken Schnitzel. When I went to Israel the first time back in 2016, I was not very adventurous with my food choices. I shared with you on "F is for Falafel" that I didn't even try Falafel. The one thing I did eat almost every day for lunch was Chicken Schnitzel. Wait a minute -- today is not "c" nor "s" . . .I'll get there in a minute. Just wait. So while we've been eating at home over the last 13 months, I started craving chicken schnitzel but I wanted it to be WW friendly. I searched recipes on line and found "Chicken Schnitzel with Lemon and Parsley Potatoes." The recipe was a UK WW recipe!! This recipe is a bit more labor intensive that many recipes I make but it was worth it because it tasted good. The best part of the recipe was the lemon sauce!! Mark said if I make it again, I should double the sauce we could put it on the chicken, too. To fit today's "L" category, we will reverse the name. I should also tell you that I have a food scale that weighs in ounces or grams. This recipe uses grams so I just switched the scale and weighed the ingredients.

Lemon Parsley Potatoes with Chicken Schnitzel

New Potatoes - raw - 700 grams
Plain white flour - 3 T. (I used White Lily)
Eggs - 2 - lightly beaten (I used jumbo)
Japanese Panko breadcrumbs - 90 grams
Lemon - 1 large - zest and juice needed (plus extra if desired) - you need 2 T juice for recipe
Boneless chicken breasts - 4 (recipe calls for 4 but you could increase recipe if serving more people or if you like thighs and are not on WW, you could always use boneless thighs)
Pam (or other brand spray)
reduced fat mayo - 3 T. (I used Hellman's light)
Parsley, fresh - 3 T chopped plus sprigs if you want to decorate 
Dijon mustard - 1/2 t heaped (I used a little more)

The original recipe called for baking the chicken. I used the air fryer and used a meat thermometer to determine doneness.

Cook new potatoes until fork tender. Original recipe says 20 minutes but it took a little longer for mine to cook. When tender, drain and set aside.

Using two paper plates and one paper bowl  (or small bowls from your kitchen) - put flour on one plate, eggs in the bowl (lightly beaten), and panko on another plate. I'm being totally honest. I hate using that many dishes that have to be washed - hence, the paper products. 

The recipe doesn't call for any seasoning in the flour but I added some Cavender's Greek seasoning and a little salt and pepper.

Dip each chicken breast into flour mixture (both sides), then egg, then Panko. At this point, I used the air fryer to cook the chicken. (you can click on the link for the recipe in the opening paragraph and see the original instructions). I did spray each piece of chicken with pam when I placed in air fryer and I flipped about midway through cooking and sprayed the other side.

Here are the instructions for the best part of the recipe -- the Lemon Parsley sauce. My favorite part of the original recipe (besides the taste) is found in their instructions, "In a small jug, mix . . ." I didn't have a small "jug" on hand so I used a bowl. Mix mayo, parsley, mustard, and lemon juice together. Pour over potatoes and stir gently until sauce covers all potatoes. If we make it again and double the sauce, I would use half on the potatoes and drizzle some on each piece of chicken as I served.

Serve potatoes alongside piece of chicken schnitzel and sprinkle extra chopped parsley on top. May also serve with lemon wedges.

My picture does not showcase the potatoes in an attractive way. I used gold potatoes because I love the taste but I think the dish would be prettier with red new potatoes. I would normally serve a green veggie or salad alongside. I don't usually serve two starches together especially with breading on the chicken BUT this has been the way the last year has gone - sometimes you have all of the ingredients in the house and sometimes you use what you have.

Have you made more substitutions in your recipes over the last year? Have you created new things to eat using the ingredients in your pantry, fridge, and freezer?

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

K is for Kabobs

A B C D E F G H I J . . .K! K is for Kabobs!

Our weather is grilling weather almost all year in Alabama. I know that some parts of the country and world say they are getting out the BarBQue, but in the deep south, we grill, on what some of you call a BarBQue, and we eat BBQ! In the south, we use the words "barbeque/BarBQue/BBQ" for the actual meat - could be pork or could be beef. Some places slice it and some places shred it and we love it. There are even BBQ competitions.

So those kabobs in the picture above were cooked outside in our courtyard on our big gas grill. Just FYI, many of us also have smokers - either a Big Green Egg or others. We have a Pit Barrel Cooker for smoking meat.

I don't have a recipe for Kabobs but I'll try to make one up as I go. First of all, get some "sticks/skewers" from the store or you can order these from Amazon. On the day you plan to make kabobs, soak the skewers in water for an hour or so beforehand. This keeps the sticks from burning on the grill. You could always be fancy and order metal skewers and wash and reuse them instead of using wooden skewers.

We like onions, mushrooms, zucchini, red, yellow, or green bell peppers, yellow squash, lemons (especially on chicken or shrimp), and sometimes cherry tomatoes. Kabobs can be made with boneless chicken breasts or boneless thighs or chunks of steak or shrimp. I've even seen kabobs made with Conecuh Sausage -- which is made in Alabama!! You can even make an all veggie kabob which I do with any leftover veggies that don't make it onto the meat skewers.

You want to cut your meat into pieces that are similar in thickness and size so they will cook evenly. I like to marinate my chicken in a little Ken's Light Caesar salad dressing with some Cavender's mixed in. Sometimes I'll google marinades for chicken and try something new - like a citrus marinade.

Remember that you are going to be threading a skewer through all of the items so you want to cut your vegetables so that they will stay on the skewer. Slice the lemons into wedges and the squash or zucchini into thicker circles. Slice the onions into wedges and then you can use the bigger pieces. I slice my peppers into 1 1/2 to 2 inch squares (I'm guessing!). I like to have something sturdier on each end - a lot of times I'll have a cherry tomato on one end and a mushroom on the top pointy end. The beauty is you get to pick which veggies you want to use. 

After marinating the meat, have your veggies pre-chopped into individual piles (a pile of peppers, a pile of onions, etc.). I try to make sure that each kabob has about the same amount of meat and veggies. You don't want to serve a kabob to someone that only has one tiny chunk of meat -- I usually aim for about 4 pieces of meat on each kabob.

Start threading the meat and veggies onto the kabobs. We usually give each kabob a spray of olive oil pam before placing on preheated grill. Our grill gets incredibly hot - like 600 degrees or something. Use a meat thermometer to determine desired doneness. 

If I'm serving these to dinner guests, I make extras. Every person will not eat two, but you want to have enough so that if someone does want two . . .it is available.

These are delicious served alongside baked potatoes or over rice. If we make them just for us, we might just have kabobs and salad.

Have you ever made kabobs? Too much trouble? Worth it? What is your favorite meat on a kabob?

Monday, April 12, 2021

June's Squash Casserole

I married into a large family who, until covid, got together every Christmas to share a meal. Mark is one of four plus spouses plus kids. His mother is one of four and when we were young, she and her siblings and their spouses would attend. His mom is the only one from that generation who is still alive now. All of those couples had kids so Mark is one of 12 first cousins . . .who are now married with kids. Now the kids have families. There are a lot of folks. Each year, we had the full spread of turkey and dressings and all of the sides. Mark's Aunt June always made squash casserole and I loved it so much that I asked for her recipe. I have modified it slightly over the years.

June's Squash Casserole

2 # yellow squash - sliced
1 medium onion - chopped
1 stick butter (y'all know I love Land O' Lakes)
1 can cream of chicken soup 
1 8 ounce carton sour cream (I use light)
1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
1 8 oz. can water chestnuts (drained)
2-3 cups Pepperidge Farm Stuffing 
salt and pepper to taste

Place squash and onion in a boiler and cover with water. I like to add a little salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until squash and onions are tender. I've never timed this step but I would think it takes about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350.
Spray 2 quart casserole dish with Pam.
When squash and onions are tender, drain in colander.
While squash and onions are still hot, transfer either to a mixing bowl or back to your boiler and add 3/4 stick of butter.
Add soup, cheese, water chestnuts, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of Pepperidge farm mix and gently stir together.
Place a thin layer of Pepperidge farm mix in bottom of casserole dish. Pour squash mixture on top of dry stuffing.
Dot remaining 1/4 stick of butter on top of casserole.
Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.
You can make the casserole the day before and store in fridge. You will need to bake longer to compensate if ingredients are cold -- bake 60 minutes.
I like to sprinkle a little shredded cheddar on top for the last 5 minutes of baking time.

This recipe can be doubled to serve more people.

I love recipes that are tried and true and especially recipes that come from another generation of family. Do you like squash casserole? Do you have any recipes that have been passed down through the family?

This is a triple recipe -- I crushed
cheese its and mixed with
melted butter for a topping

Saturday, April 10, 2021

I is for Iceberg Lettuce

I wanted to share our homemade ice cream recipe with y'all and I may still do that but for now, I'm going to share another simple recipe.

Mark and I love salads of all kinds. I love to use good lettuce, kale, and spinach leaves. Growing up in a small town, I had no idea that there were lettuces available other than the faithful Iceberg. I know there is very little nutritional value in Iceberg but if prepared the right way, it can taste fresh and delicious.

I love to go to a restaurant and open the menu and find a wedge salad! I think the first one I ever ordered was at Brio. Our Brio closed during Covid and I don't think it is coming back.

I borrowed this picture from the internet. Doesn't
that salad look yummy??

Several times I've created my own wedge salad using the ingredients on hand.  

Wedge Salad (serves 4-6 depending on size of head of lettuce)

1 head of Iceberg Lettuce (I rinse the outside but leave the stem on - I chop off any brown on stem)
Cut iceberg lettuce into 4-6 wedges - each wedge needs a piece of the stem to hold it together.

chopped tomatoes
bacon crumbles - I've even used Al Fresco Chicken Bacon
original recipe calls for Blue Cheese but we also love Feta cheese instead
original recipe also calls for Blue Cheese dressing but our family loves to use Feta and instead of Blue Cheese dressing, we like Thousand Island. Mark's momma served wedges with Thousand Island and so we often do, too.

Making a wedge salad is truly simple - cut into wedges and sprinkle toppings. I love to make a big platter of wedges and let people serve a wedge to themselves.

I need to get Iceberg Lettuce this week - I foresee Wedge Salad on our menu next week!