Friday, January 18, 2013

Homemade Sloppy Joe #Dinner/Faster #Blogher

Some weeks are busier than others in my family. With kids in school, my husband and I working, dance lessons, swimming, and life in general, we are busy. Because we both work from home, and we home school our youngest daughter, there is a misconception among family and friends that we have lots of time.

Needless to say, there is never enough time to get it all done. I hear this from many of my friends, so I know it is a common thought for most families. Quick and fast meals are necessary when you are plowing ahead at full steam.

When I think of quick and fast dinners I am reminded of my childhood. My idea of what is quick and fast is very different from the way I grew up. For my mom, it meant a can or a box, and involved the microwave. For me, it means homemade and less processed.

This is the tricky part when you want something fast. How do you achieve speed without sacrificing good, wholesome food?

A few years ago, while living in Utah, I belonged to a dinner group. Our group of four ladies met once a month, and on that day we cooked and cooked and cooked. During our long day of prepping, preparing, and packaging, we laughed and got ourselves caught up on each other's lives. It was time to bond and forge friendships in an environment that we loved, the kitchen.

Our group's goal was to make 20 freezer meals in one day for each family, for a total of 80 meals. I know it sounds impossible, but we were organized and prepared to start early, knowing that our day would be long, but at the end we would have 20 fast and easy dinners for our families to enjoy for the month.

On a side note, what I loved about these meals in my freezer, is that if a friend was in need, I had something ready that I could drop off for them to enjoy. Usually it was the birth of a baby, or a family with the flu, but every once in a while they were for a family enduring the loss of a loved one.

The recipes included: spaghetti sauce, enchiladas, chimichangas, potato casseroles, chili and sloppy joes, just to name a few.

I enjoy the Sloppy Joe recipe because it was a family favorite, made from scratch, and incorporates lots of veggies. My kids love the homemade version better than the one served in a can. It is not as sweet and I think they prefer that too. I know I do.

I won't lie, this recipe makes a ton! For this reason, it is a great meal to make for a large crowd, or to store in the freezer in smaller portions for the weekend, busy school nights, or lunch at the office. And don't forget, Sloppy Joes are messy!

This recipe can be made in about 30 minutes, but to absorb the liquid and allow the flavors to come together, it should be allowed to simmer for about an hour, but remember you will have 3-5 easy dinners, lunches, or snacks for the next few months.

Freezing meals is a quick way to achieve a fast dinner in our busy lives. Many recipes can be frozen with great success. You also don't have to make 20 meals at one time. Start off small and prepare a few each week. Plan your menu, buy a few extra ingredients while shopping, purchase the containers, and have a permanent marker available to label. When labeling your freezer meals, you should write the name, date prepared( with year) and approximate portions of each item. This makes it easier down the road as you are sorting through containers in the freezer to know what you have and to keep them rotated properly.

Recipe: Homemade Sloppy Joe's
Makes 20 individual servings

2 lbs ground hamburger, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of diced carrots, small pieces
1 cup of diced celery
1 jar of roasted red peppers (7 oz), diced
1 can of crushed tomato's (14.5 oz)
1 can of tomato sauce (14.5 oz)
1 cup of ketchup
2 teaspoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey (add more if you want a sweeter flavor)
1 cup of cooked white rice
1 cup of chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, add oil. Once oil is hot, add the cut celery, onion, and carrots. Cook until tender.

Add the remaining ingredients.

The temperature should be set to medium-high to allow the mix to reach a boil. Once the bubbles appear, turn the temperature down to medium-low and allow mix to simmer until much of the liquid is gone-roughly 45 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve immediately or package for later use. If stored in the freezer, recommended shelf life is 3 months.

This post is part of BlogHer's Dinner, Faster editorial series, made possible by Land o' Lakes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chorizo and Black Bean Nacho's

I cannot resist a good cheesy nacho.  In my quest to find things to eat at restaurants I tend to lean towards nacho's because the chips are made of corn, the cheese and meat are gluten free and it's a meal that my kids will usually help me eat.  I have a hard time eating a full meal the older I get. To be honest I am not quite sure why that is.  I noticed with my Mom that she also found her appetite decreasing the older she became.

Last year was the year I discovered Chorizo and we have been eating it ever since in a variety of prepared ways.  I had the clever idea of incorporating it into a nacho blend when I was struggling to find a quick meal for dinner.

I had purchased the chorizo to use in another dish but quickly reached for it when my time was hastily escaping me due to an appointment I needed to keep.  I find chorizo sausages fry up quickly.  I added a can of black beans and a few diced red onions.  The meat mixture was done in a matter of minutes.

This meat mixture also freezes well.  I recommend adding a bit more meat and beans and have the storage containers on hand for you to quickly bundle it up for a later date.  I know that my kids enjoy nacho's after school and this makes an easy snack for them to reach for when they return home.

Nacho's can be customized by adding additional ingredients to the mixture.  Jalapeno's would be a great addition to simply bring some heat to the dish.  There are a number of combinations to use for the toppings.  We enjoy lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, olives and Mexican Cheese that can be crumbled on top.  A huge dollup of sour cream usually doesn't go unnoticed either. 

With the fixings or not, this will remain a family favorite not only for the ease of the dish but also because the spicy bean combination that the black beans and chorizo offer the dish.

I would love to hear what your favorite types of toppings are when you prepare your nachos.  Do you have a secret ingredient that sets your nacho's apart from the rest?

This was my plate (see picture below) last week and it disappeared right before my eyes into my hungry belly.


Recipe:  Chorizo and Black Bean Nacho's

4 Chorizo Sausages, uncased and fried up
1/2 cup of red onion, diced
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Combine the three ingredients together in a fry pan and fry until hot.

The sausage adds a lot of flavor simply because it is Chorizo.  If you would like to add your own combination of spices, go right ahead.  I would suggest garlic and cumin as a place to start.

Serve meat over a bed of corn chips with melted cheese .  Finish the dish with your favorite toppings.

Written by Sherron Watson


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gluten Free Rosettes and Patty Shells #SundaySupper

Rosettes and Patty Shells are words that, when spoken a few years ago, I would have had to store in my memory and return home to "google".  I did not grow up with such fancy and delicate desserts in my home.   Don't think ill of me for pointing out the obvious, but it's true.  I grew up on fudge, cakes and dense cookies.  Nothing to balk at, yet, not the same as say a bratzeli, a rosette or a patty shell.

Phone Photo
In December, That Skinny Chick Can Bake by Liz, shared her recipe for rosette's.  I was mesmerized by these frail and lacy cookies.  What were they and could they be made gluten free?  Two common questions in my quest to find fun and challenging items to prepare and bake in my little white kitchen.

The cyber world is full of explanation as to what and how these cookies are made, served and traditionally celebrated.  I turned to Wikipedia and to discover the story behind this simple cookie.

It took me roughly 5 minutes to read Liz's post and have my Rosette and Timbale set ordered and on its way to my doorstep.  Timbale is another name for Patty Shell.  I was so excited to have something so unique in my own kitchen.  I know that these are a tradition in some cultures for Christmas but I saw them as a fun way to celebrate birthdays, Valentines and Mother's day.   All three holidays, of which,  I have on my horizon, as all three of my kids were born in January and February, and May is right around the corner.

I soon discovered that my eldest daughter, Rye, was a sneaker of rosettes.  I call her this because she is a very healthy eater and to have something before her that is so tempting as a fried cookie was beyond her self control.  Each time I turned around I noticed that my pile of freshly made rosettes was diminishing, one cookie at a time.

Phone Photo
I knew immediately who the culprit was, there is no denying the white fluffy powder of confectioner's sugar on her chin.  She grinned when confronted and we laughed that this cookie was too good for her to resist.  I dare say, rosettes and timbales are hit among my family and friends.

I experimented with two batches, a gluten free version and the recipe that I found on Liz's site.  I needed my family to experience the "real" version before I attempted a gluten free cookie so we could match the texture and flavors.

I am happy to report that they are very similar, and to my delight, they disappeared just as quickly as the original batch had on those first few days of making them.  Yes, you read that right, days.  I made these three days in a row when I received my set in the mail--how could I not?  The rosettes were fun to create, the family enjoyed them and I loved using all of my cast iron molds.

I don't collect many things, but the cast iron molds are abundant in size and shape. I hope to add a snowflake to my box of goodies in time for Christmas 2013.

 Sunday Supper is a wonderful group of bloggers that has been organized by Isabel of Family Foodie.  You can read her story here and learn about how it was started and why by visiting this link HERE.  You can also follow along every Sunday on twitter with the handle, #SundaySupper.

I was thrilled to be invited to participate towards the end of last year and decided to start in January.  This is my first post.  My first experience of a Sunday Supper with a talented group of friends.  At the end of this bit of writing you will find the links to all of the participants and the recipes that they are sharing.

This week is special because we are celebrating Sunday Supper's birthday.  One year ago the idea of a seed grew into a sprouting and vivid garden filled with the choicest of recipes and friends.   We have been asked to choose a past recipe from the 52 weeks of Sunday Supper for 2012 and share our version.  As mentioned above, this decision was an easy one for me because Liz's recipe for rosette's was a great inspiration in my journey of cooking simple and yet gourmet recipes.

I decided to make the timbale/patty shells and share my gluten free version of the recipe used for the batter.   The cookie is delicate and holds its shape well.  There is a fine line between frying them though-- too little and they become chewy and too long and they become dark and brittle.

My suggestion is to have a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil. It should hold steady around 350 degrees.  This may require that you turn the heat up or down on your stove top to maintain the desired frying temperature.

In my attempt at creating something new and beautiful, I followed the picture on the box of my molds--the cups are filled with fruit.  I added a bit of custard to the bottom of my patty shells but this is something that should not sit or they become soggy.  The fruit filled cups with custard would need to be made just before serving and then served with a plate…they are messy after the first bite.

I would suggest a fruit bar with the shells on a plate, the fruits diced and ready to serve.  Have the option of a filling (pudding or yogurt) available and let your family and guest create their own works of beauty.

The patty shells are just as delicious on their own with a bit of confectioner's sugar sifted over the top as the rosette cookies are. The shells just give you more options and designs to choose from.

You can find my recipe for the gluten free batter at the very end of this post, but I really want you to see the talent and the recipes that have inspired the other submitters in our group over the past 52 weeks.

Happy Birthday Sunday Supper!
In Isabel's own words, "how do you choose just one recipe from 52 weeks of fabulous Sunday Supper Recipes?"  

Sunday Supper Appetizers:

 Sunday Supper Soups and Breads:
 Sunday Supper Main Dishes: 
Sunday Supper Veggies: 
SundaySupper Desserts and Snacks: 
 Sunday Supper Breakfast Faves:
Sunday Supper Wine Pairings by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog 
I am excited to announce a New Addition:  Tablescape by An Appealing Plan, Anniversay Dinner featuring Cheesecake with Fresh Berries orginally posted by The Messy Baker Blog
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the#SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here → Sunday Supper Movement.

Recipe:  Rosettes and Patty Shell Batter, Gluten Free
Adapted from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Makes about 40-50 cookies

oil, for frying

2 eggs at room temperature
1 cup of milk, luke warm
1/2 cup of rice powder (this is finer than rice flour, see note below)
1/2 cup of arrowroot starch
1 teaspoon of coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt

For Patty Shells-- a variety of fresh fruit: whole, sliced or diced
For Patty Shells-- any filling: pudding, whipped toppings

For Patty Shells and Rosettes:  confectioner sugar to sift over the top

While preparing batter, start oil on stovetop.  In a pot, add 2 inches of oil.  Heat until a temperature of 350 degrees is reached.  Do this slowly, if you try to heat the oil too fast then the oil will get too hot .

In a small bowl combine dry ingredients and whisk together to combine.

In a different small bowl, add wet ingredients and whisk well.

Combine the two bowls and whisk until you have a smooth batter.  

Check oil to see if it is ready.  If not, cover batter and let sit until the oil is ready--this is okay to do because it lets the gluten free batter have a chance to "marry" the flours together.

When the oil is ready, add the mold with handle and preheat the mold in the oil.  You want this to be hot enough so that when you dip the mold into the batter it sizzles and sticks to the mold.

Please follow directions on box as to how to cook the rosette or patty shell.

I found that I would have to stir the batter every once in a while to reincorporate the ingredients.  You will also find that the last bit of batter will be wasted because the oil from dipping the molds in and out is too much to withstand the balance of ingredients.

Do not put the batter over the top of the mold--you will not be able to remove the cookie without tearing it.

It is better to go half way up the mold with the batter because when the cookie is submerged in the oil it walks up the side of the mold.

It is a fast process to fry the cookie--it may take you a few tries to get the rhythm and cookie just right. 

I use a cookie cooling rack to set my rosettes or patty shells on right out of the frying pan.  I then transfer them to paper towels to dust with confectioners sugar.

Store in an air tight container, they will be fresh for 2 days.

NOTE:  I buy my rice powder at H Mart, a national asian food chain across the country.  You can make rice flour finer, if the powder cannot be found in your area, by putting a small amount at a time in a blender, vitamix or blendtec and pulsing for a few seconds.

Written by Sherron Watson


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