Meatball Soup

12:49 pm by

Mr is recovering from Christmas vacation – too much heavy food! So I opted for soup. I was planning to make Italian Wedding Soup, but didn’t have spinach, so I just winged it. The ingredients are approximate – I just added what seemed right for the soup, and served with garlic Italian bread.

Winter Italian Soup

  • 2 slices bacon, cut in half
  • 1/2 c sliced carrots
  • 1/4 c sliced celery
  • 1/2 half onion, minced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I use S&W organic)
  • 2 containers chicken stock (or 8 cups water + 4 T chicken or veg bouillon)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic salt (I used Trader Joe’s Rosemary Sea Salt)
  • 2 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 can canelli (white) beans, rinsed (I used S&W low-sodium beans)
  • 1 c frozen green beans
  • 1 pkg frozen meatballs (I used Trader Joe’s Turkey Meatballs)
  • 1 pkg tortellini or other pasta
  • 4 T shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed; my favorite method is to heat pan of water to boiling, then add pasta, cover and remove from heat; let sit for 20 minutes. If you’re using stuffed pasta (tortellini, ravioli, etc.), cook as directed on package.

Place bacon slices in large stockpot and heat on med-high. Cook bacon until done; remove and drain most of bacon fat into glass dish.

Saute carrots, celery, onion & garlic in bacon fat for about 3 minutes (add more fat if needed). When carrots are slightly tender, add about 1/2 c broth and let simmer on medium heat for 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, stir and cook for 10 minutes.

Add remaining chicken stock, mushrooms, white beans and frozen green beans, cook for 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring often.

Add frozen meatballs & seasonings; cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Ladle pasta into bowls; ladle soup on top of pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

*NOTE: I am gluten-intolerant, so I skip the pasta. If you’re gluten-intolerant or on a low-carb diet, do the same. It’s still quite yummy!

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Garlic Mushroom Chicken in Balsamic Sauce over Parmesan Risotto

11:26 am by

Whew, that’s a mouthful! (hahaha)

I’m not sure why I keep posting chicken recipes – you’d think we never eat anything else! I think it’s because chicken is the most versatile main dish – you can do so much with it, unlike pork or beef or chicken. Since I love chicken and mushrooms, and my family loves cheese and whatever I do with chicken and mushrooms, we’ve got this yummy recipe!

Garlic Mushroom Chicken in Balsamic Sauce over Parmesan Risotto

Risotto is a notoriously difficult dish – it requires a lot of stirring and oversight. I’m not a patient person, so I made up a “cheater’s risotto” – it’s basically rice cooked in the rice cooker with a bunch of cheese. There’s stirrage at the end, but by then, the rest of the food is ready. :)

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Sunday Supper

7:14 pm by

I planned to make a blueberry pie today, but a nap got in the way… Still managed to make a yummy Sunday Supper. Thanks to J for the suggestion!

Parmesan Chicken with Polenta

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Spring Supper

2:49 pm by

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted! I have a million pictures, but have been very busy with work and other activities (including: teaching Art Literacy, spearheading a Youth Group Room remodel, speaking at conferences, re-painting my kitchen, dealing with pets, dealing with tweens… :)

Anyway, it’s been a very wet spring here – we finally broke the 70-degree mark for the first time this past week (the 3rd WEEK OF MAY!). And today, wonder of wonders, the sun is out, the skies are blue. I rode my bike to my 12.30 class and the kids made fun of my helmet hair. :)

So, what do we do when it’s warm? We open *every window in the house* and enjoy/ignore the neighborhood sounds. Enjoy: birds, lawnmowers, happy kids. Ignore: neighbor revving car, leaf blowers, chainsaws, crying kids. And serve a light spring supper in keeping with the weather. Since my life dream is to spend a month in Italy and Greece, I’m serving up:

Lemon Pepper Pork Gyros with Homemade Tzatziki and Xioriatiki

(sounds fancy, eh? Skip to the bottom for the details. Note: you can also use thinly sliced steak or chicken in place of pork. Someone will suggest lamb and you go ahead & have fun with that. I cannot stand lamb as food, tho the little smelly things are adorable in person and not on my plate.)

an Angelicious recipe

Gyros (30 min marinade):

  • 1 1/4 lb. pork sirloin (or chuck steak, or boneless skinless chicken breasts), sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

In a glass bowl, toss pork strips with remaining ingredients. Cover and let stand, at room temp, for 30 minutes to marinate.

Meanwhile…

Homemade Tzatziki – the easy way

  • 1 c plain yoghurt (Greek yoghurt works best, but regular yoghurt is fine)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded & finely diced
  • 1/2 small cucumber, peeled, seeded & finely dice
  • 1 T chopped fresh mint
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Other:

  • 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • flatbread OR pita bread pockets

In glass bowl, mix all tzatziki ingredients and stir well. Season with salt, pepper & parsely; stir, cover and set aside at room temp.

(Tzatziki – the not as easy, but seriously yummy way.)

Heat grill (I use my old, battered, but still reliable George Foreman!) and spray with non-stick cooking spray or brush with oil. Grill meat in batches, placing in a slightly warm oven to keep until ready to serve.

Let's get grilling!

While meat is cooking, slice pita pockets in half, or prepare flatbread slices for serving. Tip: warm your bread before slicing to prevent tearing; about 15-30 seconds in the microwave should do it.

To serve, stuff pita pockets – or layer on flatbreads – with grilled meat. Drizzle with about 1-2 T tzatziki.

It's pita time!

Xioriatiki (Greek Village Salad)

Super simple & super yummy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head green leaf lettuce, shredded (by hand)
  • 3 tomatoes cut into wedges OR 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c crumbled feta cheese (TJs has a great Greek feta)
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or black olives, drained
  • Capers (optional)

Mix first 3 ingredients in medium bowl; top with remaining ingredients.

(NOTE: You can also layer the ingredients (starting from the top) and drizzle dressing over individual plates.)

DRESSING:

  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried or 1 T fresh oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

Combine dressing ingredients; shake well and let sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature. When ready, pour over salad & toss. Serve with gyros.

Pictures to come!

BTW, here is what you’re making:

Gyros = YEER-ohs. Essentially “Greek sandwiches,” consisting of meat and dressing (sometimes veggies) wrapped in flatbread. The typical ingredient is lamb. (yuck.)

Tzatziki = tsah-ZEE-kee. A sauce/dressing made of yoghurt and cucumber. Yummy & lowfat!

Xoriatiki = HOHR-ee-ah-tiki. “Greek Village Salad” or “Traditional Greek Salad.” A very simple and easy to prepare salad that brings out the true flavors of Greek food. Serve as a main dish with a nice, crusty bread, or as a side to dish with chicken, steak, seafood or – as above – gyros! The salad is typically made with chunks or slabs of feta, rather than crumbled, but I’m cooking for a family and chunks of feta do not live in my fridge.

Last but not least: this is a very kid-friendly recipe. The gyros are mild, minus “scary” ingredients and plus the fun of folded sandwiches. The tzatziki is smooth and creamy – again, nothing scary – and the salad is very basic (just watch out for the capers, some kids think they look like fish eyes. Some kids who  may have once upon time been, um, me).

Happy spring!

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Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

5:50 pm by

Oh, goodness. I woke up to a sore throat and pounding headache. It’s going to be 86 degrees (that’s hot here in the Williamette Valley) – being sick in the summer heat is not a recipe for angeliciousness.

Then I went into the garage to get out some chicken for supper – only to find the outside freezer defrosting. A boy didn’t close the door all the way and it sat ajar overnight. AAAGGGHHH. This has happened before, and we had to lock the freezer. We stopped locking it about a year ago (such a pain), but it looks we’ll have to start doing it again. Unlocking and re-locking the freezer helps remind them to make sure the door is shut.

Fortunately, most stuff was OK, but I wasn’t taking chances with the beef roast. Since it’s going to be hot today and I don’t want to be hovering over the stove at the peak of the afternoon heat, I decided to make a family favorite: slow cooker french dip sandwiches. I’m posting the first half right now, just in case you’re in the mood to stick something in the slow cooker.

Angelicious Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
Perfect for a hot summer day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 eye of round (or other lean) roast, about 3 lbs.
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 T each salt and pepper (I used a roasted garlic pepper mix this time), mixed in a small bowl
  • 2 c beef broth
  • 1 onion, chopped or 1/4 c dried minced onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T dried or 2 T fresh minced parsley
  • 1 T mixed pickling spices
  • 1/2 tsp each marjoram, savory, oregano and pepper

For later:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Sandwich rolls
  • Cheese slices (Havarti and Swiss work well with this recipe)
  • Lettuce & tomato

Before you begin:

I say this all the time, but it’s worth repeating: prep is everything. You’re going to be working with raw meat, so make sure to do your prep work before you touch it! Set aside the bowl with one T each salt and pepper, and have the garlic slices ready in a small bowl.

All set. Notice the red mat.

Mix onion, bay leaf, parsley and remaining herbs & spices in another prep bowl and set aside.

Garlicky Goodness, IKEA prep bowl. I heart IKEA.

Spray the inside of your crockpot and also a large skillet (if using a seasoned cast-iron, you do not need to spray). Sprinkle about 2 T of the herb & spice mixture on the bottom of the crockpot.

Let’s get busy:

Place roast on a cutting mat (you are using a special cutting mat that is only for raw meat, right?) and trim away any fat. With a small, sharp knife, make several deep slits in the roast. Stuff these slits with garlic slices. Repeat around the entirety of the roast.

Little pockets of garlic goodness

Remember that red mat? It cost something like $2.99 at IKEA and is only used for raw meat prep (that’s why it’s red! When my other cutting boards wear out, I’m getting a green one for veggies and a new wooden one for bread. :) ). Anyway, it’s important to keep raw meat away from other foods – don’t use the same mat you cut meat on to cut salad veggies – even if it’s been washed. If you have no choice – say, you live in a tent and have no room for a second cutting mat, which is really the only scenario I can think of for not buying a flat, $2 cutting board! – be sure to use a plastic cutting board (wood absorbs bacteria and is very difficult to disinfect) and put it in the dishwasher immediately after use (the dishwasher is the only way to disinfect a cutting board. Well, you could do the bleach/hot water thing, but hey, the dishwasher’s already full!).

OK, sermon over. :) I just want you to be safe.

Rub outside of roast with salt and pepper (or whatever rub you use; I tried a new roasted garlic mix, then added a bunch of pepper. Next time, I’ll go back to my traditional rub). Wash hands well with hot, soapy water, then turn heat under skillet to medium-high.

Rubbed & ready

When hot, transfer the roast to the skillet. Brown, turning to each side after a few moments. This seals the flavor. Be sure to get the ends, too!

You may need to stand the roast on its end to brown the ends.

Transfer roast to the sprayed crockpot. Pour a small amount of beef broth in the still-hot skillet and scrape with spatula to remove the browned bits. Pour this mixture over the browned roast in the crockpot.

Naughty Bits

Pour remaining beef broth and red wine vinegar around (not over, you’ll wash away the rub) the roast in the crock. Sprinkle with remaining herb and spice mixture.

Ready for cooking

Cover and set crock for 6-8 hours on low, 4-6 on high. OH, and don’t wash the skillet! You’ll use it again, with any remaining naughty bits, later.

Ready to serve:

Slice mushrooms thinly. In skillet you used earlier, swirl about 1 T extra-virgin olive oil and place on medium-high heat. When pan is ready, add mushrooms and saute for about 3-5 minutes, or until softened.

Slice cheese into fourths; slice tomatoes and prepare lettuce leaves. Split sandwich rolls and place one slice lettuce and two small slices of tomato on each one.

BUNS!

Remove roast from crock and place on (clean) mat. While roast is cooling (don’t cut a hot roast, you just get a bunch of chunks instead of nice, neat slices), strain broth/spices from crock into a sieve. Pour strained juices into small bowls for dipping.

Cooling time!

When roast is cooled (about 10-20 minutes), cut into 1″ slices. Place one slice of roast on each split roll, then top with one slice of cheese. I used a combo of Havarti & Cheddar. Top with a large spoonful of sauteed mushrooms.

Sandwiches, ready to eat!

When it’s not super-hot, I toast these in the oven; it was hot, so I didn’t.

Serve with homemade potato wedges, bowls of au jus and salad. Watch your picky eaters eat the entire lot & beg for more.

Hungry man!

Enjoy!


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Happy Birthday, US of A! Ciabatta Bites

10:31 pm by

What are you doing for 4 July? We’re having ribs with friends, then fireworks. Happy birthday, US of A!

(BTW, this is a very patriotic and internationally happy appetizer: red tomatoes, white Havarti cheese, bleu cheese olives, peppered dry salami on ciabatta bread. Has been tested for quality control by @Michael Diehl & passed with (heh) flying colors.)

Ciabatta Bites

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Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

5:54 pm by

Happy Saturday!

We returned last night from our family reunion in Yosemite with sore bums from so much driving and amazed eyes from so much looking. Yosemite National Park, if you’ve never been there, is one of the most spectacular sights in these humble United States. Getting to hang out with my family-in-love (Mike’s huge family of aunts, uncles & cousins) was like icing on the cake!

One of the best things about vacations – besides just getting away from it all – is returning home. I love crawling into my huge, comfy bed, taking a hot bath with my favorite bath salt, petting my sweet kitty. And cooking – I so missed cooking! I did one dish at the campground – a chili verde recipe for my mom-in-love – so my cooking mojo was starving for attention. Wading through 296 emails last night, I came across this lovely dish & decided to surprise my family (& get back into the groove) with Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. I’m still in my sweet Nick & Nora PJs as I type this… ah, home. Sorry for the lack of pictures – I was a bit busy!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

an Angelicious breakfast treat – with inspiration from The Big Red Kitchen

This is truly a one-bowl recipe, but it has several steps. Follow the steps the first time, and see what works for you.

Before you begin….

If you have pastry bags, now’s the time to get them out. If you don’t, you can use plastic sandwich bags (the kind that seal) – you will need  two. Open the bags and spread the top part around a drinking glass, making a kind of “bowl” out of the bag. You will be pouring your filling & icing into these bags.

Make the filling and icing first – you’ll need them almost immediately after you make the pancake batter (and that’s how you get one bowl!)

The original recipe called for a pancake mix; I’m enclosing my family’s favorite pancake recipe because I rarely use mixes. If, however, you use mixes, I heartily recommend Trader Joe’s multigrain baking mix – so good and so good for you!

I used my regular griddle for this, but since the cinnamon filling caramelizes so easily, I might use a cast-iron skillet next time.

Ingredients

Cinnamon Filling

  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) very soft butter
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 T cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • dash kosher salt

In large bowl, use mixer to whip butter until creamy. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, and beat until very smooth. Watch for lumps here – brown sugar tends to get little “sugar rocks,”  break them up with a fork if you see any. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the filling into one of the bags (scrape the sides as clean as possible). Your bowl should look pretty clean, with maybe a streak or two of mix on the sides – don’t worry about it. :) You do, however, want to rinse the beaters and spatula before the next step.

Icing

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 T milk

In same bowl, use mixer to combine all ingredients until smooth. Use spatula to scrape icing into the other bag; again, clean the sides as best you can with the spatula.

Angelicious Pancakes

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour (I use Trader Joe’s white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 T white sugar
  • 2 1/2 c milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 T butter, melted or 6 T canola oil
  • 1 T vanilla

Preheat your griddle or skillet, spraying lightly with cooking spray. (If using a skillet, a pat of butter works better than spray.)

In the same bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and pour in milk, eggs (I like to beat the eggs first, makes it easier to blend), and melted butter or canola oil. Beat with mixer until batter is smooth and not lumpy.

We were out of milk (because who leaves milk in the fridge for a week while on vacation? Except I did forget to dump the bowl of tuna salad before we left, and uh, GROSS) so I made up a quart of powdered milk. Always keep powdered milk on hand – you never when you might need it, and no one can taste the difference when cooking.

Get your filling and icing ready by snipping a scant 1/4″ to 1/2″ from the corner of your bags (or screw in a round tip if using a pastry bag).

Scoop batter using a 1/4 c dry measuring cup and pour onto griddle – I do about 3 at a time on the griddle, but would do at a time in a skillet. Let cook for about 15 seconds, then grab the cinnamon filling bag. Beginning at the outside of the pancake, make a swirl of cinnamon filling around to the inside of the pancake – like a cinnamon roll! Do this to the other pancake(s) and let cook for 15-30 more seconds, or until edges of the pancakes are dry. Flip over and let cook for 15-30 more seconds.

tip: while you’re waiting for the pancakes to cook, start filling your sink with hot, soapy water. Trust me on this one.

When pancakes are ready, carefully scoop up using a spatula and plate them – don’t stack! You’ll need a large serving platter or several plates. To me, this one of those “eat as you cook” type of dishes, unless you’re planning to serve a bunch – if so, plate them on a large baking sheet and keep them warm in a 200 degree oven.

While the pancakes are still warm, grab your icing bag and perform another snip on the corner. Swirl icing over each pancake – I used a straight up-and-down, a nice contrast to the swirl of the cinnamon filling, but you can do swirls, a cross-hatch pattern – whatever suits your fancy. Remember that the larger your bag opening, the more icing you’ll use and, since these are very sweet already, you don’t want too much icing.

Repeat the process with all pancakes. If you’re doing the oven plating, you can wait until all the pancakes are finished before applying the icing – as long as the pancakes are still warm.

I served with turkey bacon; next time, I’ll add some fruit (sliced strawberries or melon chunks would work great for this dish). Sit back and watch your diners marvel at your genius.

Cleanup:

Cleanup for this recipe is a little messy, due to the caramelizing. Caramelized sugar hardens quite quickly, so be sure to scrape your griddle/pan clean while it’s still warm, then rinse the spatula. As soon as they’ve finished raving about your cooking, have your diners put their dishes immediately into the hot, soapy water so the sugar doesn’t get hard and stick to the plates and silverware.

PS: Did I mention Yosemite is amazing? My photog husband took this picture of J & me in front of Half Dome. Check out his Flickr site for even more amazing pictures (and please be sure to comment – I know his pictures are awesome, and he loves to hear from others!)

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Book Review: Creative Cooking for Colitis

4:25 pm by

This week’s book review is “Creative Cooking for Colitis,” written by Angela Breidenbach (yay for Angelas!). I’m pleased to know Angela as a fellow writer and member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group, and she offered a preview of the book, available on CD or as a PDF download.

First, a little bit about colitis. Our good buddies over at Wikipedia define colitis as “an inflammation  of the colon and is often used to describe an inflammation of the large intestine,” with symptoms that include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, cramping and bloating. Angela herself suffered from six months of constant illness caused by microscopic colitis. “Everything I ate hurt and caused embarrassing results,” and Angela developed depression on top of the painful problems.

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Spicy Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

2:06 am by

My BFF, Megs, and I try to make a lunch date at least once a month – we call it “lunch therapy.” Our favorite couch? P.F. Changs, where we share a bowl of spicy chicken noodle soup with brown rice, sauteed mushrooms and a nice (i.e. least expensive) bottle of white wine. Changs is awesome – the bowl of soup is usually more than enough for both of us, and we take turns bringing home the leftovers.

One thing I love about Chang Soup is that it clears my sinuses and peps me right up. So when Mr Lici had a nasty cold, I knew that chicken soup just wouldn’t be enough. He needed garlic & lemongrass goodness, spices to clear the sinuses, and something that would actually be edible to his poor, ailing tastebuds. I decided to try & replicate the fabulous soup of Changs for Mr Lici. Judging from how much he ate, the results were not too shabby. I made it a little too spicy, but that was easily rectified by adding another container of chicken broth to the leftovers.

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Happy Birthday, M!

7:45 am by

Birthdays are a big deal at Casa Angelicious. We usually have several celebrations:

  1. Bdays seem to almost always fall on a weekday. A school day, to boot. So birthday day is celebrated.
  2. So is “King for a Day” (the first Saturday after the birthday, where the Bday Boy gets to choose all meals, movies, activities, etc.).
  3. Then comes the birthday party, a month or so later.
  4. Let’s not forget the Grandparents’ Visit, where bday boy is taken out for dinner.
  5. Sometimes we celebrate their bday at church with Refreshment Time. And cake. Lots o’ cake.
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