My December Cooking Light magazine arrived in the mail yesterday. One of the articles was about common mistakes when making mashed potatoes. Gluey mashed potatoes are caused by overworked potatoes. The starch cells in boiled potatoes rupture when they are being mashed. The more you mash, the more gluey they become. Mashing potatoes with an electric mixer could cause an Elmer’s Glue effect. The article suggested using a food mill or a ricer before mashing. Hmmm. I was up for the challenge.
When I got home, I boiled my potatoes just until soft. The food press is made for easy draining. After draining all of the water into the sink, I started pressing the potatoes.
I have to admit, as I was pressing the potatoes in the food mill, I was thinking, “This is so stupid! Who would take the time to do this? It’s making a mess all over my counter AND I’ll have one more step (washing the food mill) to clean up when I’m done.” But, I kept going.
When I was done, the potatoes looked like fine rice in the bowl. I added a stick of margarine, 4 ounces of cream cheese, and about 2 cloves of chopped garlic. I also added salt, to taste and then used a spoon to mix it all together. Ok, at that point I was taking back all of my nasty thoughts about how stupid the people at Cooking Light were…. ’cause – YUM. They were the perfect potatoes. I would never have thought to use the food mill. I don’t think I would use it for a big family dinner because it would just be too time consuming, but I will definitely try their idea again.
It’s something to think about as Thanksgiving is approaching. Happy cooking!
It all started last week when my son said, “Remember that soup you made that had the crispy tortillas on top? Can you make that again?”
I kept promising I’d make it, but the craziness of life kept getting in the way. Emergency trips to the vet, shuttling kids to activities, and late nights working on school stuff consumed my time. On Tuesday, I promised I’d make it, but the dog needed the cooked chicken breast (remember that vet visit) and I didn’t have time to make more. (I may be feeding him cooked chicken breast, rice, and broth for every meal but at least he’s finally eating!) With that promise broken, I PROMISED again to make it on Wednesday. Wellll, I didn’t actually remember that I had a staff meeting on Wednesdays and that I wouldn’t get home until 5:00 and the whole family would need to be out of the house by 5:30.
I walked in the door at 5:10 and pulled up my recipe. I was missing a few ingredients but I didn’t want to let me kids down again. My hubby and daughter were just about ready to walk out the door with empty tummies, but they grabbed a snack and said they’d eat at 7:30, after soccer. I made my grocery list, grabbed my son, and headed out to the store. We pulled out of the driveway at 5:20. Now, friends, here’s the amazing part. My son had to be at church at 6:00 for Youth Group. We drove to the store, shopped for our ingredients, drove home, prepared a fabulous homemade chili, ate, and got him to church by 6:00. Chefs around the world would be shaking their heads at me, because quality soup/chili cannot be made quickly. They take time to set and let the flavors mesh. But, moms all over the world would be high-fiving me for this new record I set!! Yes, I’ve got my fist out waitin’ for a fist bump!
Here’s what I did:
I started by cooking a pound of chicken breast in the crockpot so it was one less thing to do when I got home.
In a pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
Add 1/2 small diced onion, cook for 3 minutes
Add 1 clove of minced garlic, cook for 1 more minute
Add 1/2 cup flour and mix
Slowly add 1 cup of half and half and 1 cup of milk
Add 8 oz of light cream cheese
Add 1 1/2 cups of Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
This mixture makes kind of a mac and cheese type sauce.
Slowly pour in 3-6 cups of chicken stock (depending on how thick you like your chili)
Add 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
(or chop your own)
1 diced yellow pepper
(corn would be good too, if you are not a fan of peppers)
1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
It made a thick, yummy, cheesy, chicken chili that everyone loved.
My hubby says this recipe needs to go in our regular rotation. The kids both loved it too!
By the way, those little tortilla strips on top were just cut and tossed with olive oil and a bit of taco seasoning. Then I baked them for about 5 minutes to crisp them up. They were a perfect little topping for the chili.
Last weekend, I was very proud of myself! I spent a little extra time making meals to put in the freezer. I left a note on the counter for the kids to put the enchiladas in the oven at 4:00pm at 400 degrees. By the time I got home from my meeting, dinner was ready! Oh, how I love it when a good plan works out.
I usually start by putting a few chicken breasts in the crockpot with some taco seasoning (Yes, I buy the package even though I try not to buy prepackaged stuff.). I let that cook all day and by late afternoon, I’m ready to assemble the enchiladas.
Combine 1 cup sour cream with one can of Cream of Chicken Soup.
Add a package of taco seasoning to the creamy mixture.
Lay out a tortilla shell.
Spread a little of the creamy mixture on the tortilla.
Add cheese and chicken.
Roll it up and put it in the (greased) pan.
Think of it like a taco and build it like that.
You can decide how much meat, cheese, and sour cream you usually like.
Once you’ve used all of the meat, lay the enchilada in the pan and smear (that’s a technical term) the rest of the creamy sauce over the top. Top with cheese and bake for 30 minutes at 400. The cook time will be longer if it is coming straight from the freezer.
I guarantee this is a family favorite in the making.
First, let my say that when you dish it up, straight out of the crockpot, it does not look this pretty. Honestly, it looks like a sloppy mess. This picture was actually taken of the leftovers. Once it’s cooked, it cuts perfectly and looks much prettier. But, who am I kidding, no one in my family cares about pretty lasagna. They just want yummy lasagna.
Here’s what I did:
15 oz ricotta
2 cups mozzarella
1 cup Parmesan
2 cups chopped spinach
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
I buy 2 bottles of Newman’s Own Alfredo sauce when I make lasagna. For this recipe I also bought some precooked chicken sausage. It was one of those yummy sausages from Costco that has sundried tomatoes and cheese inside. I’ve also made it with browned Italian sausage, but use what you like.
Pour a little Alfredo in the bottom of the crockpot. Then put in a layer of lasagna noodles. I use the kind that you don’t need to boil ahead of time. The noodles are rectangular and my crockpot is oval, so I had to break the noodles up so they would fit. Next comes a few spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture, then chicken sausage, and a handful of mozzarella cheese. I continued alternating those ingredients until I ran out.
I set my crockpot to low for 5 hours, and then had it switch to warm until I got home. (I love having a crockpot that I can program like that!)
Happy cooking, friends! You’re going to love this!!!