Monday, January 24, 2011

Cooking Up a Storm or Winter Weather Watch #2

We're awaiting another weather event. Snow is predicted. I am in denial. Therefore, I shall only say this: I've got a blow dryer, three snow shovels, and all hands on deck if I need them. I hope I don't need them. I really do. I'm lighting candles and sending up desperate momma pleas for no more snow.

Why? First of all, I've paid my dues on the snow front as a child, teen, young adult, and woman. I moved to Alabama. This is the south!! I want southern sultry weather. Snow does not have a place here anymore.

Second of all, I have work to do. Serious work. And I'm not just talking about writing. I'm talking about Cooking Up a Storm. One that doesn't include making allowances for weather events where fluffy white stuff falls. I am on duty as cook de jour for my husband's colleague's family.

Life happens folks. And sometimes when life happens it is pretty sucky. Like a cancer is diagnosed and a young mom is fearful for her hubby and scared for her children. And when life happens, I get cooking! I am a Church of the Holy Casserole and Crockpot kind of gal. I can't cure cancer. I can't kill mean, bad ass cells, but I can cook. Yes, I can pray. I can ask for help from the universe and I do. But I can also help in practical ways. And this is my gift that I can give to them.

Snow is not allowed to interfere. Period. The. End. I have an SUV, and I'm not afraid to deliver.

Now I'm talking about cooking on full-speed ahead mode. I'm talking 2 crockpots running at the same time and one homemade casserole ready to roll. I'm talking about packaging the food and making it easy to freeze and microwave.

Yes, I am a doer. I always have been a doer. I can't sit still and wait for answers. I don't do well with not doing something to help if I have the ability and the resources to do so. So I hear crap news? I think to myself how can I help? And this is how I help best.

I'm a cook at heart. Had I not been diagnosed with a deadly food allergy, I'd probably be a food critic or chef. I love to cook (and I love to eat). The culinary world's loss is the writing world's gain because now I cook up stories, but I digress. I just want to make healthy, nutritious, and healing food for these people.

I'm cooking up a storm tomorrow. I know I can't use tomato bases in my recipes because of the acid (thanks to a nurse/friend's advice). So here's what is cooking at my house tomorrow:

Christine's Crockpot Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half
12 or so new potatoes, cleaned with skin on and halved
1 pound carrots peeled and cut into large pieces
1 bag frozen pearl onions or frozen onions or 1 fresh onion chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup light chicken broth, no MSG and low sodium
garlic powder
dried whole rosemary
fresh ground pepper
salt (optional)
Penzey's Tuscan Sunset (salt free) or Salt free Italian Seasoning

Spray a crock pot with Pam cooking spray. Layer potatoes, onions, carrots, and onions. Then add cut up chicken breasts. Combine wine and broth. Pour over the mixture. Sprinkle all spices on top of the mixture to taste or to coat. (I never measure this). Cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours in crock pot. Avoid stirring the ingredients if you can till the very end. Serve with hot rolls. The broth is excellent. The whole house smells like a wonderful, aromatic Italian trattoria. :-)

From Fix It & Forget It Lightly/with some adjustments
Gone All Day Casserole 
Submitted By Beatrice Orgish

1 cup uncooked wild rice (I use a brown and wild rice mix) rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2, 4 oz cans mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 large onion, chopped (I'm using frozen chopped onion)
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cup slivered almonds (I'm omitting due to small children & possible allergies)
2-3 pounds boneless round steak, cut into cubes
2 Tbsp. oil (I'll use olive)
3 cups low salt beef broth

 Place ingredients in crock pot in order listed. Cover. Salt and pepper beef, brown in skillet, transfer to Pam coated crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours till rice is tender. Stir before serving (or putting in freezer containers). Enjoy!

Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast'sHomemade Macaroni and Cheese (with minor adjustments)

1 pound elbow macaroni
4 tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
4 cups milk (I've made this with skim, but am using whole for the recipe)
1/8 tsp. cayenne (I'm NOT adding this for others, but do for my family)
1 1/4 cups yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
 1 1/4 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded (I am doing 2  1/2 cups yellow/orange cheese)
coarse salt
fresh ground pepper
8 oz ham, diced into pieces
bread crumbs (I make my own & freeze), but store bought is fine

Preheat oven to 375 (in this case I will not cause I'm prepping for my friend). Prepare pasta, drain, and reserve. In a 5 quart heavy pot, melt butter. Add onion, cook till soft. Whisk in flour to coat onion. Add milk in a steady stream and whisk till no lumps. Cook, whisking often till mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in cayenne (not in this case). Add cup each of cheddar cheese (I'll add two cups yellow/orange). Season with salt and pepper. Toss pasta with mixture, fold in ham. Transfer to baking pan. Set aside. Mix the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup cheese. Top pasta with bread crumbs and bake till top is golden. About 30 minutes.

I'm sending it ready to bake, with crumb mixture. 

I hope you try these recipes. They're yummy. and the next time you see people who might need a helping hand, maybe these recipes will come in handy!


C,E. Grundler said...

Here's to hoping that next round of snow turns out to be more hype and less inches than the last few. You're doing a wonderful thing; comfort and caring is truly a healing gift in its own way. My culinary weapon of choice is the pressure cooker and I've many crockpot recipes work quite nicely.

And if it does snow, safe travels.

Christine said...

Thanks C,E. I will be careful if it snows. I really hope it doesn't. I love my crockpot and have tons of recipes for it. I've never used a pressure cooker, but have had many delicious meals made for me with one over at my husband's aunt's house.

Thanks for stopping in to visit!


Jean Hovey said...

Snow or not, I know you will not be stopped and it will make life easier for that family.

Recipes sound yummy. I make mac and cheese very much like that, but I use part Velveeta. It's part of being southern--happily anticipate the snow and never apologize for the Velveeta.

We really must get together and cook some time. Maybe make pasta. I love to do it but I think it's a two person job. I don't have enough hands!

Pam said...

Your friends are lucky to have you. The recipes sound wonderful; I'm going to try them soon!

Gwen Hernandez said...

The recipes sound great, and I know that family will appreciate your love via food. I'll send warm thoughts your way, though we don't have any actual warmth to give from up here. It was 12 degrees this morning and we're due for snow on Wednesday. :-)

Anne Gallagher said...

Ah yes, the impending storm. Neither wind, nor rain, nor dead of night will keep these couriers from their appointed rounds. Or something like that.

I know how you feel about bad news and food. I was a chef and whenever I found out about bad news, I'd do the same thing. Cook. It not only soothes the soul, but when you do it for someone out of love and concern, the food tastes so much better.

I know the snow will not keep you down, and add my name to the prayer list for your friend. I might not be able to cook for her, but prayers can help too.

Christine said...

Hi Jean: Your mac and cheese recipe sounds yummy! I love velveeta. I have used it to make a quick spinach dip for my daughter. She would eat spinach if it had melted velveeta in it. And I would love to cook pasta with you one day. We'll have to make it a date ;-)

Hi Pam: Awe. Thanks. I just hope he has a full and speedy recovery. I'm grateful that the weather is not heading to flurries. The delivery should go well. Let me know how you like the recipes. :-)

Hi Gwen: Thanks for sending warm thoughts my way. I believe it is working! 50 degrees when I left the gym today!!

Hi Anne: I didn't know you were a chef! Wow. That's my secret passion--well actually I dream of being a reality tv food show star. Or I dream of the Take Home Chef finding me at the grocery store and taking me home to cook a fabulous meal for me and my family. Food is a comfort!

Thanks for all the prayers. All! I believe in the power of prayer making a difference.

Katherine Bone said...

Christine, I wish you safe travels. Just don't end up like Gulliver. ;)

Thanks for sharing your recipes. Can't wait to try them.

Christine said...

Hi Kathy: I can tell you that the everday casserole turned out so yummy that I can't wait to make it for my family. The recipe said you could substitute chicken for the meat. I'd do that and swap the beef broth for chicken broth. Very tasty.

I hope you enjoy the dishes!