Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chicken Fajitas for Senior Lunch

I've been having way too much fun in the kitchen at the Senior Center and not taking enough pictures...

I'm in charge of the menus and have been having fun trying to make interesting, good tasting food for our people.

This week I decided to make Chicken Fajitas.   A friend and his wife introduced me to them some years ago and I make them for myself from time to time.    And thought that they might be a nice change of pace for lunch.

I had so many green peppers that came to us through Farmshare and we had Stuffed Green Peppers a couple of weeks ago, and since we had so many, I thought that Fajitas might be a nice choice.

So, with that in mind we prepped a lot of peppers, and on Thursday we made and served them.

And I fell down on the job, I forgot to take a picture of one of the final plates with the chicken, but I did get a shot of a take home plate with the vegetarian option.
Not all people eat meat you know.

At any rate, thanks to Jarrett( who now runs and owns Twisted River Cafe and Grill in California), I learned how to make a great tasting Fajita.    His secret was Montreal Steak Seasoning on the Chicken.   And while I didn't put the chicken on the grill to cook it, I did get some awesome flavour on it anyway because of the seasoning.
First off I prepped the Chicken Breasts the way Ina Garten says to do it.   And believe you me, you get a lovely moist chicken breast this way.
Just oil the chicken breasts a little.  I actually used a paper towel as a swab and swabbed them with some oil, and believe it or not, used just over 1/4 cup of oil for all these breasts.
I then sprinkled the Montreal Steak Seasoning over them and baked them in a 375 degree oven until the thermometer reached 165 degrees, some of them were actually 175 degrees, but they were still moist and tender.








We then cut them up and placed them into a warming pan.

However, while they were cooking, we prepped the onions and some more peppers.
Do you have any idea how many tears you can cry when you're slicing a lot of onions?
And I also had a few red and yellow peppers we cut up as well.
Needed to have some color in there.

As I said before we also had a vegetarian option available.   We made up the pepper/onion mixture and added some sauteed mushrooms, zucchini and broccoli from Farmshare.  
All in all a good, healthy meal.   

And we had a lot of dessert and I forgot to take a picture of them.   There was a luscious chocolate pudding bundt cake, as well as a yummy lemon cake. 

I want to also give a shout out to Lisa, Geri and Jon who helped me out.

And to all the wonderful people who processed the green beans, broccoli and okra we now have in our freezer for future meals.    We got a lot of produce from Farmshare this week. 

Next week the menu is:
Deviled Eggs
Potato Salad
Oven Fried Chicken
Tomatoes cooked with some Okra   (both of which we got from Farmshare)
and of course desserts. 

Gotta go finish resting up now.  



Friday, February 27, 2015

Baked Brie with Red Current Jelly and Candied Nuts

I think I watch way too much Chopped on the Food Network sometimes.

Well, I would watch it way too much, if it weren't on so darned late at night. 

I'm not exactly a night owl these days.   And 10 pm qualifies as such.

But...

I wanted to make some Baked Brie for Tapas this past week, and I had some lovely Brie I'd bought a Trader Joe's recently.  It is sliceable.  In other words, it looks a little like a log, a little squared off log, that is.

So...  I decided to see what else I had in the freezer and pantry I could use with the Brie.

I pulled out some puff pastry from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge for a little while.
Took the brie cheese, placed it in the center of the pastry.


Added some Red Current Jelly and some crushed Candied Nuts I had hanging around in the fridge, minding their own business. 
Then decided I'd cut slits in the sides and try making something fun looking.
Took turns folding them over, and brushed them with lightly beaten eggs.


See.

I love my mini pastry brush, I can just pop off the silicone head and into the dishwasher it goes.







Put the brie log into my mini baking pan, and sprinkled some more crushed candied nuts on the top.











I did bake this at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, which might have been almost 5 minutes too long.

Either that or I just didn't seal the pastry well enough.
Cause some of the Brie escaped.

But it still tasted good.   And I will make it again and again and again.

Just so long as I have some or all of the ingredients hanging around.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tapas Night for February

One of the things I love about Tapas Nights is that not only do I get to cook, lots of fun stuff, I get to, sometimes, enjoy what others bring.

Let me explain...

I get so caught up in visiting that, while I may get to take pictures of the food, sometimes that's as close as I get to it, cause I'm too busy visiting. 

But I do appreciate all the various dishes that are brought...

 We had some vegetarian dishes.

These beans looked so good.     And they also disappeared, rapidly. 

 I did make some sauteed Bok Choy in honor of Chinese New Years.

Consuming green vegetables is considered lucky.


I also made some Vegetarian Potstickers, and they disappeared in short order.




There were also these Thai Eggplant's, and they were OMG good.  The sauce is one I need to get the recipe for.  
HINT!
There was a quiche, which I managed to get a shot of, but it was gone fast.

We had a hungry buncha people here last night.












There was also this pea salad, so simple and so good.  
I wish I'd gotten a better shot of these.
Bacon Wrapped Duck Breast along with some BBQ Pork bites.

I did get to taste one of the Duck Bites.

I do love duck...

Maybe I should make one, one of these days.








Sorry for the blurry picture, but I didn't get a back up shot, so this is it.
An interesting dish.   I did get to taste a small smear of it.
It was another of those offerings that disappeared rapidly.













As did this, pile of sliders.   And you can see some of the other dishes around the table here as well.









There was also a taco dip, which is always a popular item.












I also made some Seeded Crackers along with this awesome Buffalo Ranch Dip  


I think it would be great with some Potato Chips for a take along, last minute dish. 

So many possibilities...
I do love a versatile dip.






 I also made a Baked Brie with some Red Current Jelly and Candied Nuts.

Too sinfully rich and good.


I think I'll need to do this again.  But next time, I don't think I'll bake it quite that long cause the Brie tried to escape.


You can see it there, oozing out, trying to get off of the plate.

It didn't work though, it was all eaten.

And in the background some mushrooms I'd made up, so simple and good.  


I have to say, I LOVE Mushrooms.   And the local store had some Crimini mushrooms on sale, so I had to buy them.
And I'll share how I made them in another post.  








Now, let see what else was brought and shared...

Lots and lots of Desserts...









As you can see we had a lot of great food, wonderful companionship and best of all, Fun.  


Monday, February 23, 2015

Buffalo Ranch Dip

I made some Buffalo Ranch Chicken Bites for a dish to take to a Super Bowl party this year and along the way I came up with a killer dip.

I mean this was so good, people were dipping the Seeded Crackers in it, as well as veggies and the chicken I'd made.

OK, so I started the dipping process by dipping the crackers I'd just made into the dip, but the veggies and the chicken tasted so good dipped in it as well.

So...

If you have a last minute thing you need to bring something to and you just don't feel like stopping at the store to pick up a dip to go with that bag of chips or crackers or ...

And you happen to have three simple ingredients in your fridge, well, you too can make this.

This is so simple and so good, I have to share.


 





 Make sure you do a taste test...


Serve with vegetables, chicken, chips, or where ever you want a blast of something creamy and hot. 

Simple, simple, simple.

And so good.

I did make it for Tapas along with some Potstickers and the crackers and some baked brie.  I wasn't up for anything too fancy this month.    I'll be posting the Tapas Roundup of great dishes a little later on this week.  I ran into an issue with the pictures not showing, so am trying to fix that. 

yield: 1 cupprint recipe

Buffalo Ranch Dip

prep time: 5 MINScook time: 2 MINStotal time: 7 mins
This Buffalo Ranch dip is perfect for dipping. Whether you have some crackers, veggies, chips or even chicken.

INGREDIENTS:

Buffalo Ranch Dip
  • 1/2 cup prepared or bottled Ranch Dressing
  • 1/4 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Melt butter over low heat and the hot sauce, then add the ranch dressing and whisk together.  Serve with sliced veggies, chips, homemade crackers or chicken.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Senior Lunch for Feb. 19...

We had our biggest crowd yet for lunch today.  

And I'm tired.

I made Hamburger Steak with Gravy, Macaroni and Cheese as well as the Desserts of Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and Banana Bread. 
Doesn't that look good?  

I'm told it did taste good as well.   And I had some great volunteers in the kitchen again.  

Jon took over the cooking of the Green Beans and Geri made the Zucchini Sticks.  Both of which were very well received.   

I also made a few desserts along the way...

Some Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and Banana Bread.    Just a little something sweet to end the meal with. 

We got the Zucchini, Green Beans and Rolls from Farmshare and they are much appreciated.    I love feeding good fresh food to people. 

Next week we're going south of the border with our menu.    I'm going to make some Chicken Fajitas, Rice and Beans.     And still trying to come up with a good dessert idea, but I'm thinking maybe some kind of pie? 

And the Zucchini Sticks...   Which people keep raving over, well they're simplicity themselves. 
Take a young (small) Zucchini, cut it into quarters, then drizzle a little olive oil over it, sprinkle with some Parmesan Cheese and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, and serve with a little marinara sauce.
Simplicity itself, and so tasty.  
You don't have to do as many as we do, just a couple for dinner and you're good to go.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Prepping Jalapeno's

I got the coolest tool awhile ago from a friend.  It's to be used to core out Jalapeno's.

So you can actually make whole stuffed Jalapeno's.

It actually, umm, took me awhile to learn how to do it.

I can be a little slow sometimes, getting a new concept into my head, that is.

But once I do, watch me run with scissors.

Sorry, but after some experimentation, I now core all my jalapeno's before freezing them, well, apart from the ones I mash up, accidentally.

To start with, glove the hand you'll be using to play with the jalapeno's.  
I never mess around with this step.

Trust me, but if you've ever brushed an eye or a nose when  you have pepper juice on it, you'll never use an ungloved hand again.

The pain, the pain...

I'm also assuming that you rinsed the jalapeno's off first, and patted them dry.

Take a sharp knife and cut off the top of the jalapeno.
Then, taking this really cool tool, insert the sharp bit into the jalapeno, twisting clockwise and counter clockwise to release the little seed parcel.
Pull the seed parcel out with the tool, and set aside.

Proceed to the next one and continue the process until all the Jalapeno's are seeded.
There is a mangled pepper in the back there along with one I did the old-fashioned way, which entailed cutting it in half, and then digging out the seeds.
The corer makes it a lot easier, and quicker.
And they're cute to boot.


You can now stuff them however you like,  do as I did, put them into ziploc bag and into the freezer for future seasoning and eating possibilities. 
I suggest using a mixture of cream cheese and sausage, although you could also stuff them with some Cheddar Jack cheese, wrap them in bacon and broil them.

I have an idea, I think I see a new appetizer in my future.  I'll share the how to's as soon as I do them.

In the meantime, if you happen to see one of these corers running around, catch it and try it out yourself.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Buffalo Whales and Oysters...

Gotcha...

I bet you were wondering just what in the tarnation Buffalo Whales and Oysters are.  

You were, weren't you?

Well, I'm a member of the Secret Recipe Club and even though I'm not in Group B anymore, I can still see the great recipes they post.
And this one caught my eye, or could you say, I got hooked by it?  hmmmm

At any rate, Amy made these with pretzels, but I didn't have any, however, I did have a brand new box of Whales.  Which are just a giant goldfish cracker.    And I also had a bag of Oyster Crackers hanging around. 

So, I played with my food,  again.

1 7 oz. Box Whales or Goldfish crackers
1 cup of Oyster Crackers
5 Tbsp. Butter, melted
4 Tbsp. Franks Red Hot Sauce
1 Tbsp. Dry Ranch Mix
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. Celery Salt (I used celery seed, cause that's what I had)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil or a silicone mat.
I used the great reusable parchment paper I have.
Dump the box of Whales and Oyster crackers into a large container, set aside.
Melt the butter and add the Hot Sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ranch mix and celery seed.  Whisk together.
Pour over the crackers and mix together until it is all combined.

























Then pour the cracker mix onto the baking sheet, mixing them again, lightly, making sure they are all coated.
Bake for 45 minutes, stirring them around every 15 minutes until they are dry and have absorbed all that goodness.

I loved these crackers.   They were tangy, slightly hot, and really, umm, well, I had to stop eating them so I would have enough to take with me to NPA.  And I noticed that people were nibbling them as well.
I think these would be fantastic mixed in with some chex cereal, or with some nuts or ...
Just like this.   
They were quick, easy and tasty.
And best of all, I had all the ingredients, no trip to the store for me this time. 


http://verygoodrecipes.com/appetizer