Monday, July 30, 2012

Hearty Lettuce Wraps

I love P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps.  The problem I have with them, though, is that I can almost eat them all day long and still be hungry.  I think I've come closer to solving the problem with the way I made them tonight. The original recipe I was using can be found here:

The changes I made were as follows:  I used about a cup of chopped almonds instead of the chestnuts (mostly because I was too lazy to go down in the basement to hunt for them), and I added some cooked rice, probably about 1 1/2 cups.  I also skipped the onions (didn't have any), and I used iceberg lettuce.  I never buy iceberg lettuce, since I think the darker kinds must be healthier, but my son needed that kind for a scout campout, and then went off and forgot about it. Everything else I did the same, and they were fabulous.  Yet another complaint-free meal!  Woot! 

Super Fast Broccoli Millet Salad

I have never been one of this world's most creative cooks.  When I first got married, I was a bit shocked when my husband put vegetables in the macaroni and cheese, as I was a bit of a purist, and since veggies didn't come in it already, it just seemed like they belonged on the side.  I was surprised at how much I liked it, though, and it's been rare ever since that we don't add vegetables to that and other pasta dishes.  Since I latched onto the "grains are the staff of life" idea, I seemed to have turned on a little creativity spark when it comes to putting more grains into our diet.  This week I came up with a couple of great ideas (at least they passed the muster at my house), so I thought I'd share them with you.  I particularly like this first one, as it took me less than 15 minutes to have the meal on the table.

I was searching through the fridge during the nightly 5 p.m. Panic, trying to figure out what I was going to fix for dinner, and I found a couple of bags of shredded broccoli salad (I think sometimes it's called "broccoli slaw") way in the back that I'd totally forgotten about. Thankfully, it was still very good, so I took it out and dumped both bags into a bowl.  I got out a quart of my  home-bottled chicken, chopped half of it up and put it in a frying pan with some barbecue sauce and just heated it a little.  I had a couple of cups of millet leftover from breakfast, so I added that to the broccoli.  Then I made a dressing by mixing 1/2 C. of Vegenaise with a tablespoon of tamari (lower sodium soy sauce), and mixed that in with the broccoli.  After that, I tossed in the chicken, and voila! Dinner was served!  Oh, I also steamed some green beans while I was mixing up the salad.  Even though the children had not been interested in the millet for breakfast (I liked it), everyone ate plenty of this salad, and I had no complaints.

Here's a better list of the ingredients:

 2 bags of shredded broccoli salad (with carrots and purple cabbage--or you could do your own, but why would you?)
2 Cups of cooked millet (cooled, if you weren't using leftovers)
1 pint of cooked chicken
3 to 4 T. of your favorite bottled barbecue sauce

1/2 C. Vegenaise (or other mayonnaise)
1 T. soy sauce

Chop the chicken.  Put in a frying pan with the barbecue sauce and heat through.  Let cool while you do the rest of the salad.  Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Mix the broccoli with the millet in a bowl.  Add the dressing and mix well, then toss the chicken in there and toss it well.

This would also be good with some peas, peppers, olives, etc.  There's lots you could do with this.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Whole Wheat Tortilla Recipe

I have now eaten the Breakfast in a Jar four times this week, and I have to say that it is a definite winner.  I realized after posting it that in the recipe I posted last time, I had doubled all the ingredients except for the milk, so I've changed that so it's correct.

I had someone ask me about tortillas yesterday, so I thought I'd just post what we do for them.  Most of the time we just use corn tortillas, since they seem to be made from the whole grain, and that's got to be healthier than the white flour ones, which dissolve into a paste in my mouth.  But that's just me.  What we really like, though, are my home made whole wheat tortillas, but being that they are a bit time consuming for this large crew, and being that I don't typically start thinking about thinking about what's for dinner (no, that wasn't redundant) until around 5 or 5:30, I usually don't have time to make them before the dinner hour of 6 p.m.  When I do make them, they're always a hit, though, and now that our numbers are getting fewer I should probably do this more often.  One thing that I think is an absolute necessity for making tortillas is a tortilla warmer.  It is nothing more than a round shaped insulated container that keeps the tortillas warm and soft while you're making and serving them.  I've seen them all over at grocery stores, and they aren't expensive.  If you don't have one, but you're just dying to make tortillas, you could probably get by wrapping them in a clean dishtowel, but these warmers are definitely worth having, if you're wanting to make your own tortillas.  Here's a picture of a tortilla warmer:

They come in lots of colors and materials.  Some are very decorative and some, like the one pictured are less so, but they all do the same thing.  They can also be used for pancakes.  The one pictured doesn't actually appear to be insulate, so that may not be the most important factor, but I have two that are (meaning they have a double layer of plastic with air trapped between them), and one that isn't, and they do the same job.

Okay, enough babbling, let's get on with the recipe!  Here it is:

Whole Wheat Tortillas

2 C. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
3 T. olive oil
2/3 C. warm water

Mix the flour and salt together, then add the oil and stir until blended.  Slowly add the water and stir to make a nice dough, and knead 10 or 15 times to form into a ball.  Let sit covered for about 20 minutes and divide dough into 10 or 12 smaller balls.  (I think 10 is better.)  Roll each ball out onto lightly floured surface into 6 to 8" circles, and cook on a hot griddle for about a minute on each side, until it forms bubbles, and the bubbles start turning brown.  Keep them in the tortilla warmer and serve from there.  With leftovers, you can make some delicious chips, too!  Just stack them on top of each other and cut into 8 sections, and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 for about 5 minutes, or until they start to brown and get crisp.  You need to watch them because they cook pretty fast.  You could spray a little oil on them and season them with garlic salt or other seasoning, or do like we used to do with pie crust leftovers and put cinnamon and sugar on them.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Great (Grain) Way to Start Your Day!

Overnight No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal

I first saw this recipe posted on Pinterest, so of course I pinned it, and then, of course, I never did anything with it.  That seems to be the way I use Pinterest most of the time.  I get on there to find a recipe and get distracted pinning and totally forget what I was on there for in the first place.  Someone sent the link out to one of the email lists I'm on, reminding me of it, and last night I actually remembered to make it before I went to bed.  I tried it this morning, and it was fabulous!  I think I'll pretty much be doing this all the time now.  Below is the link to the original recipe from The Yummy Life blog.  I think I need to spend some more time at that blog, too, if this is any indication of the kinds of recipes we can expect.  Below the link I'll put in how I made mine, because, true to form, I didn't do it quite like the original.  Well, the original link gives lots of variations, and I just did my own that wasn't on her list.

I was a little confused at first trying to follow her recipe amounts, because in her pictures, she clearly is using a pint-size jar, but I realized when I was half through measuring out the ingredients, that the amounts she had put in the recipes was only enough to fill a 1/2 pint (1 Cup) jar.  I wanted the larger amount, so I went back a doubled the ingredients. I didn't have any Greek yogurt on hand, so I just used more milk, and it was fine. I think I prefer it without the added sourness, but that, of course, is a personal preference. Here's what I did:

Strawberry Maple Oatmeal in a Jar

In a pint jar, put the following:

1/2 C. regular or quick oats (dry)
1 C. almond milk (when I buy it, I always dilute it 1/2 and 1/2 with water)
1 T. chia seeds
1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. maple syrup

Put the lid on the jar and shake well.

Add enough to cut up strawberries to almost fill the jar and stir them in.  Put the lid back on the jar and put in the fridge over night.  She says it will last 2 to 4 days in the fridge, but I'm pretty sure mine isn't going to make it past noon today.  I think she may be mixing up a bunch of them at once, though, and in that case they might last longer.  Enjoy!