Back to School, CSA, and a Recipe for Rice-a-Roni from scratch

It is almost that time… Back to school for both the kiddos and myself.  In fact, as I write this, I am enjoying my last 2 days before I head back to college on Wednesday.  The kids have another few weeks, lucky ducks.  I am hoping to have a smooth transition this year though, since I will be taking classes while all 4 kids are in school.  Hard to believe my youngest will be starting Kindergarten.  Where has the time gone?

Since I will be starting school again here soon, I can’t promise very many posts but I will make an effort to post every week or two.  Between my 5 classes this semester, helping the kids with their homework, my normal wifely duties, and soccer this next month or so will be swamped.  Hopefully some time will open up once soccer is over in October.

Now for my CSA last week…. I did not get a picture 😦   What I did get was a bunch of basil, 4 more gigantic green peppers, 4 heirloom tomatoes, a bag of fingerling potatoes, a head of red lettuce, 1 Spanish onion, 1 red onion,1 large cucumber,  patty pan squash, and 8 peaches.

peaches

 

The peaches never even stood a chance.  My kids LOVE fruit, so any time we get some in our CSA its gone in a flash (not that I’m complaining).  The lettuce, red onion, and tomatoes got tossed into a salad we topped off with some of the Olive Garden salad dressing we got from Walmart (Soooo excited they bottled it and sell it now!!  I get to have the Olive Garden taste without worry of being cross contaminated!)  The rest I’m not sure what to do with…

Now for a recipe…  How about some Rice-a-Roni from scratch?!  I found a pin while surfing pinterest for the almost perfect recipe for me to use… After a few tweeks, this is what the end result is!!

Homemade Rice-a-Roni  (gluten free and reg) Serves 2

1 c rice (reg white rice, not the minute stuff)

1/4 lb of angel hair pasta broken into small pieces (I use Hodgson Mill gluten free angel hair pasta for mine)

2 T butter

1/8 t salt (more or less depending on your tastes)

1/8 t white pepper (more or less depending on your tastes- start with a pinch and go from there)

1/4 t paprika

1/4 t Italian seasoning

1 packet of Swanson chicken flavor boost

2 c Chicken broth (Make sure if you are making this gluten free that your broth is gluten free as well!!  Some are not!)

Directions:

1.  Place butter, rice, and pasta pieces in a medium skillet.  Cook on medium heat until rice and pasta start to brown a little.

2.  Add in all remaining ingredients, stirring to make sure they are mixed well.

3.  Put the lid on and cook on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until rice is cooked  through and there is no liquid remaining.

That’s it!!  Simple and good, and as a bonus you know what’s in it!!  No extra added chemicals or preservatives!!

Sometimes, if I am in a hurry, I will mix up a big bunch of this and prepackage it for days I am in a hurry.  Just mix together the rice and pasta, place in a Ziploc bag with a smaller bag with the spices, and add the wet ingredients when you go to make it.

Easy peasy and so much better for you!!

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Naturally Gluten Free Beef Teriyaki and My CSA Haul for This Week

When I went gluten free, I never thought I would have to give up Chinese/Japanese food.  I mean really, it’s SOY sauce right… As long as I wasn’t eating wontons or battered food I was safe, or so I thought.  Then reality hit… Why was I getting sick after eating at my local Chinese joint?  After FINALLY reading the soy sauce ingredients, I realized I had been poisoning myself every time I ate it.

But how would I live without Chinese food?!  I love Chinese!!

After much research (and a ton of trial and error)  I finally have a recipe to satisfy my cravings for Chinese food.  (Yes I realize Beef Teriyaki is Japanese, but you get my point 😉

beef teriyaki

(Sorry it’s an Instagram photo)

Beef Teriyaki  (serves 4+)

1 1/2 lbs thin sliced beef cut into strips

1/2 c soy sauce ( I use LaChoy because it is the only gluten free kind in my area)

4 T water

2 T lemon juice

2 t sesame oil

2 t brown sugar

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

1 can baby corn drained

1 bag steamed broccoli  (or steam as much or as little as you like)

In a large wok mix together soy sauce, lemon juice, oil, brown sugar, and garlic.  On med-high heat, cook beef in teriyaki mixture.  When beef is almost cooked through, add baby corn and heat through.  In the last minute of cooking add broccoli so it doesn’t get soggy.

Serve over white rice.

I also like to serve these with Feel Good Food’s gluten free dumplings (which are phenomenal btw, if you haven’t already tried them)

That’s it.  Start to finish, it usually doesn’t take any longer than 30 minutes to make, so it’s great for a quick dinner.

Now for my CSA haul.

This week I didn’t get a picture of our haul.  Soccer has me whooped.  Tuesday’s leave me with little to no time to do anything.

This week we received 2 eggplants, 4 very large green peppers, a bunch of kale, a pound of green beans, a pint of blueberries, 2 onions (one of which is the size of a football I swear!!), 4 heirloom tomatoes, and 4 turnips.

Not many plans for this weeks veggies.  Some of them are starting to get repetitive, and I have a hard time getting my family to eat them the first time, let alone the next 3 times!!  My family is not very fond of eggplant or turnips, so using those should be interesting.  Anyone with any ideas on how to use them, please feel free to share!!

That’s all for today’s post.  I will try to post again before Tuesday, but no promises 🙂  Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to say hi!!

Super Late CSA Post and a Quick Recipe for Gluten Free and Regular Chicken Gyros

Okay so this week’s CSA post is really late.  I am just off my game lately.  The new medications I am on make me a bit ditzy and forgetful, so bear with me.

This week’s basket was a pretty good one.  I use a lot of the vegetables we received this week, so it is a  lot less likely to go to waste.

csawk05

This week we received a small bag of baby potatoes, 2 cucumbers, a basket of blueberries, a bunch of kale, 4 Hungarian hot peppers, 4 heirloom tomatoes, 4 HUGE green peppers, 2 eggplants, and 1 head of cabbage.

We usually use our kale for Zuppa Toscana which you can find in a previous post, the cabbage I have been shredding and adding to my lunches (which I will post soon), the peppers are going to end up being some really, REALLY big stuffed peppers for dinner one night, and the rest I am not sure.  The tomatoes are good just eating raw, as are the cucumbers, but I am getting tired of eating them the same way every time, so I don’t know.

Now for the recipe…

Chicken Gyros (Gluten Free and Regular)

chicken gyros

Chicken Gyros

Flat Bread or Gluten Free Tortillas (I use Rudi’s)

Prepared, leftover, or rotisserie chicken

Chopped lettuce

Chopped tomatoes

Chopped onions

1/2 or so Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt (if you are trying to eat healthy like me)

1/2 cucumber grated

Basically you just want to pull apart the chicken so that it is somewhat bite sized, and set aside.

Take a box grater, and grate the cucumber into a bowl.  Add the sour cream or yogurt and let rest for about 5 minutes so they have time to really mix flavors.

Assemble.  Flat bread or tortilla, chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, and sour cream/cucumber mixture.

That’s it!!  Super easy, super quick, and super yummy!!

Well that is all for this post.  Hopefully I will be able to get a little more motivated to get some additional posts up this week.  I have a fantastic Beef Teriyaki recipe from scratch that everyone loves, so I am hoping to get that one up soon.  If you have any additional recipes you would like to see on the blog, please let me know.

Lasagna~ a recipe for all that spaghetti sauce

Now that you know how to make some kick butt spaghetti sauce that could feed an army, lets get to some recipes that make use of it all.  First up …. Lasagna!!

After experimenting for a while to try one that everybody loved, I finally think I found it.  My husband took a pan of it to work to celebrate their last day before going on a 2 week “vacation”, and one guy had 6 pieces!!  I could barely finish off 1 piece!!  I think that means this recipe is a winner. So on to the good stuff….

lasagna

Lasagna (makes 2 pans)

24 lasagna noodles ( I made one pan with gluten free noodles and one with reg. noodles)

1 lb hamburger

1 lb Italian sausage (bulk)

homemade spaghetti sauce (I used 2/3 of the bulk kind I made in my other post)

3 eggs

chopped parsley (roughly half a bunch you get from the store)

1 1/2 c parmesan cheese

7 c mozzarella cheese

1 large container ricotta cheese

1 small container cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 425*F.

In a large pot, cook lasagna noodles according to the package.  Drain and set aside.

While the noodles are cooking, in a large pan, brown the hamburger and Italian sausage.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, scramble the eggs and add in the chopped parsley.  Mix in the ricotta, cottage, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses until well blended.

Now you are ready to assemble.  Starting with a large baking dish (I use a 9×13″) spread a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Lay down 3 pieces of lasagna. Top with hamburger/sausage mixture, sauce, and cheese mixture.  Repeat until all of the noodles are used.  Top the top noodles with sauce and cover pan with aluminum foil.

*Remember this makes TWO pans worth of lasagna*  So don’t try to squeeze all the ingredients into one pan 😉

Bake the lasagna at 425*F for roughly an hour to an hour and a half, or cooked all the way through ( the cheese deep in the middle is melted).

It seems like a pretty long process but it’s not really.   And you get two pans worth instead of just one.  If you don’t need two pans of lasagna right away, you could always freeze the other one for a quick dinner when you don’t want to cook.  Just pop it in the oven and let it cook away.  No prep and no fuss, and waaayyyy tastier than the frozen ones you buy at the store!!

I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to share this post or any others with your friends, fellow bloggers, facebook family, and more!  I’d really like to get some suggestions for meals and more.  Don’t forget to “like” my page on facebook too!!

Manic Monday~ Crockpot Chicken Tacos w/ Homemade Pico de Gallo

Mondays are usually very busy at my house.  It starts the work week for my husband, school week for the kiddos, and back to school for me as well, which means we are all usually pretty pooped by dinner time and NO ONE wants to cook.  Thankfully for the next two weeks my husband is on mandatory vacation, so we can all spend some summer vacation time together.  Still, a Monday is still a Monday….

If I know I am going to have a busy day with little time to spare, I usually try to throw something in the crockpot.  Crockpots are great because I can throw the uncooked meats and veges in when I wake up in the morning, and when dinner time is up I have a perfectly cooked hot meal with little effort needed.

While feeding my addiction to pinterest, I have noticed that this particular recipe has become increasingly popular.  I personally have made it for quite a while, although not exactly the same as the one I found on pinterest.

Hopefully you enjoy this version just as much.  I have found that it tastes almost identical to my local Mexican restaurant’s version of shredded chicken.

chicken tacos01

Crockpot Shredded Chicken

3 frozen chicken breasts  ( I like the bagged boneless skinless individually frozen ones)

1 c Pico de Gallo

1 bell pepper sliced

1 sliced onion

1/2 packet of Ortega reduced sodium taco seasoning  (I am working to find a suitable substitution using only spices)

3/4 c water

Basically just dump all the ingredients into the crockpot and cook on high for about 6 hours.

Once the chicken is tender enough to pull apart with a fork, shred using either two forks, or if you have a Kitchenaid, place the chicken in the bowl with the paddle attachment on and mix on low for about 30 seconds, or until the chicken is thoroughly shredded.  I usually add quite a bit of juice to the chicken while I am shredding so it stays nice and moist.

Voila!  That’s it!

For tacos, pair with….

Warm corn tortillas for gluten free folks

Flour or corn tortillas for non-gluten free folks

refried beans

lettuce

fresh pico de gallo

sour cream

guacamole

This recipe usually makes enough chicken for my family of 6 plus a little something left over for my lunch the next day.  Sometimes I make it solely so I have something yummy besides a sandwich for my lunches.

Pico de Gallo is so easy to make and so good fresh I am surprised people buy jarred salsa from the store anymore.

Basically the recipe is….

1-2 tomatoes (Fresh during the summer is best, but any in the produce isle will work)

1/2 onion chopped into small pieces

1/4 jalapeno chopped into itty bitty pieces (if you a heat sissy like me 😉

juice of 1/2 a lime

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 small bunch of fresh cilantro leaves chopped  ( I use about 10-15 stems from the bunch you get at the store, then remove the leaves from the stalks)

Chop up the tomatoes, and mix with onion, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic, cilantro.  You can add other ingredients if you wish, such as green onion or peppers, but basically that is all you need.  It is best when eaten 5 mins or so after you make it, but it can hold in the fridge for a few days.  It is amazing with tortilla chips.

So here’s the question for you today…. Do you have a favorite Mexican dish you love to make?  I am desperately searching for a good Mexican Rice recipe that tastes like the kind you get at the restaurants.  If you have one you’d like to share, please pass it on!