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Monday, January 20, 2014

Recipe Review from 1/13/14

A very uneventful week so I'll go straight to The Recipes.

Meal plan:
Saturday: (L) out  (S) frozen pizza
Sunday: (L) fridge/freezer scrounge (leftover chicken thighs from Chicken Stew, leftover squash, rice)  (S) Southwest Chicken Stew
Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: Cavatappi and Butternut Squash Pasta
Wednesday:   leftovers
Thurs leftovers: leftovers
Friday: leftovers

Lunches: Mexican Quinoa Salad, gf crackers, fruit, nuts, luna bars

Sloppy joes were on the menu for Sunday, but I completely and totally brain farted buying any of the necessary ingredients.  I didn't even note what I needed on my grocery list it was that big of a brain fart!  But, that's okay.  A good opportunity to do some freezer/fridge reduction.  

And a shout-out to friend Tess who actually pointed me in the direction of the first two recipes for this week! Thanks!   

Southwestern Chicken Stew    (Taste of Home website, date ??)  gluten free
A wonderful easy-to-prep, slow cooked dish that was perfect for a damp winter day.  Seriously, this is a chop and plop dish that doesn't need any pre-cooking.  The flavors were just about perfect; I would have liked just a bit more zing and would recommend a dash of chili powder or cayenne pepper for adult tastebuds. Only one substitution - both Tess and I dropped the lima beans and subbed canned -  I think she used black and I used pinto.  I served with some leftover garlic bread bowl (from Red Lobster) and a dollup of sour cream.  Recommended!
photo from Taste of Home

  • 4 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (~1 pound, roughly)
  • 2 cups frozen lima beans
  • 1 (14oz) can pinto beans
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce ** watch for hidden gluten
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  1. Place the first five ingredients in a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and dry seasonings; pour over top.
  2. Cook, covered, on low 6-8 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from slow cooker. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard bones. (I didn't have to remove chicken to shred - I just poked it with a wooden stir spoon and it fell apart all on its own.)  Shred meat with two forks; return to slow cooker and heat through. If desired, sprinkle with cilantro. Yield: 6 servings. 

Cheesy Butternut Squash Cavatappi Bake   (Better Homes and Gardens website)  vegetarian option**, GF option.
Oh-kay!  A fair amount of changes here - I don't have a microwave so I baked the squash at 400* for about 30 minutes.  This gave me time to assemble the rest of the ingredients, boil the pasta and start cooking the mushrooms.  This also meant the oven was nicely preheated.  I skipped the green onions completely and omitted the bacon because I didn't have any on hand.  I didn't mash the squash but left it in chunks - mashing seemed putsy.  This made a 9x13 pan and not the 2 quart casserole as called for.  I had to do a mid-assembly pan switch which always thrills me to no end (sarcasm!). 

This turned out creamy and hearty - a somewhat mild dish backed by the sweetness of squash. I thought the fontina cheese was lovely.  Reviews of this dish had people subbing mild and sharp cheddars.   Looking forward to leftovers! 
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
photo from Better Homes and Gardens
8 ounces dried cavatappi or other elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fat-free milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
2 slices reduced-sodium bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional**)
Thinly sliced green onions (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish [I ended up needing a 9x13 pan] with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl combine squash and 2 Tbsp. water; cover with vented plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4 minutes; stir. Microwave, covered, about 4 minutes more or until squash is tender. Carefully remove plastic wrap. Mash squash; set aside.   I cubed the squash, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and baked for 30 min at 400*.   I did not mash, but left cubed.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a medium saucepan heat butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and green onions. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add milk, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in squash. Add pasta. Gently fold to combine.
  4. Transfer half of the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Add remaining pasta and cheese. Top with bacon, if desired. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Top with additional green onions, If desired. 

Mexican Quinoa Salad  (Whole Foods Co-op, Duluth, MN; modified from The Gluten-Free Vegan)  
A recipe from the Mother, which she made for Christmas dinner.  I realized as I typed this that I forgot to rinse my quinoa.  Drat and bother.  I hope it it doesn't taste too bitter.  Oh well.  Otherwise, a very easy dish to make and easily made ahead of time.   I omitted the tomatoes because mine went bad.  I also think cherry tomatoes would be better in this dish than Roma.   The husband is less than thrilled about black beans, so I subbed navy.  I think any bean would compliment the flavors in the dish.  This can also be served cold, or warmed slightly.  Personal preference.  

This made enough for three lunches for two people. 

1 1/2 C water
1 C quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 C seeded and chopped red or yellow bell pepper
1 small diced jalapeno (optional)
1 small red onion or 2 green onions, chopped fine
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 15 oz can black beans (rinsed and drained) (I used navy beans
1/4 C fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 C salsa (any kind)
1 T canola oil
Juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
Heat water to a boil in a 2-quart sauce pan and add quinoa.  Lower the heat to medium-low and cover.  Cook until liquid is absorbed (15-20 minutes).  Remove from heat and chill. 
Combine peppers, onion, tomatoes, beans, cilantro, salsa, oil, lime juice, and cooled quinoa.  Toss well and chill before serving. 

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