laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Impressively Simple Leftovers


Last weekend was craazy, followed by what’s been a fairly crazy week. Tuesday our power went out! And it didn’t get fixed until around 3:30pm yesterday! While it was a major annoyance, it wasn’t life stopping that’s for sure. Big E found his “miner’s light” (one of those flashlights that goes around your head) and Miss E has a Princess lantern (I believe both are thanks to an Auntie- thank you!) and they had lots of fun with those. They even put on a shadow puppet show for Littlest E. So sweet. Plus, since it was dark they were convinced it was bedtime almost an hour before their normal bedtime… that was awesome! And it afforded us to do some things that I otherwise would have declared myself too “busy” to do. Like walking to a lovely little cafe we like and sitting in their garden area while enjoying Yogurt Parfaits (which Big E deemed “better than candy,” and Miss E followed it with, “Or treats!” thanks in part to the shaved chocolate on top!). The older couple sitting a table away had a good chuckle over their statements. Followed up with playtime at their favorite playground. Something it’s been either too hot or rainy to do very often this summer. I think they were actually a little disappointed when the power came back on. Not much, but maybe a little. Until they realized their toast could again be toasted.

So food… leftovers, of course! Because I threw out everything that was a)going bad or b) had already gone bad or c)would never get eaten and was not worth taking up precious cooler space. I try (this is a continuous process for me!) to make sure everything continues to get eaten, not just one time and the rest thrown away… and what better reminder than a mandatory fridge cleanout! I found pre-made (and frozen) noodles, already cooked chicken, and a small container of pre-mixed-GF all-purpose flour…. so I made chicken alfredo! Yummy! The noodles are incredibly easy to make, alfredo sauce is super simple to make (and so easy to personalize into whatever your taste buds are craving most! For me it’s usually salt, for hubbyman it’s usually pepper! Bring 1 cup milk, 2 tbs butter, 2 tbs flour, and any of your favorite seasoning- I used garlic, lowry’s, pepper, sea salt, parsley, and oregano. to a boil for 2 minutes and voila- instant Mmmm.)… so that’s what we ate! What is your favorite, easy to throw together, “leftover” meal? Mine is probably salads, because I just love salads and you can throw almost any kind of (leftover) meat on top and make it especially “special.”

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Impressively Simple Thursday


So…I’ve done an “Impressively Simple” post before, and love to make and create meals that look and/or sound difficult, but are really easy. So, I’ve decided (and hoping to stick to!) doing an “Impressively Simple” recipe every Thursday. We’ll see how it works out. But seriously, who doesn’t want to have a repertoire of recipes that they can throw together for the surprise guests or unplanned get together that is sure to impress!?

This week is Chicken Cordon Bleu. I saw a recipe in a magazine and thought, that looks so good, but it sounds like a lot of work… which to me sounded just like a challenge! So I made it about 4 times, 4 different ways. Trying to find the best, the easiest, and the impressivest! (Yes, I am aware that’s not an actual word, but let’s just go with it ok, just this once!)

My first attempt was traditional. My second attempt was spicy. My 3rd attempt was easy. And my 4th attempt was impressive. They were all delicious.

Ok so… here’s the best that I came up with:

Usually it’s one whole chicken breast (plus everything inside) for each person, which is a whole lot of chicken…. so I butterflied it (as best I could), cut it into three strips, and made it so that it had the look of an appitizer, but the taste (and stomach filling powers) of a huge meal.

So…here’s what I feel is the easiest, easily impressive way to make chicken cordon bleu:

4 chicken breasts, cut in half length wise (so it’s like you butterflied it- kitchen scissors will do the trick) and hammer flat and even- I used a rolling pin to do this). Cut into 2 or 3 long (1 1/2  inch width) strips (depending on size of the breast)

Place one slice of cheese (I used the spicy cheddar I’d used previously, I used swiss, and I also used just plain cheddar, because it’s what I had… all of them were good. I vote you pick out your favorite cheese and use that -I’m always going to vote for using what you already have!)

Lay a slice of ham (I also used prosciutto -because I love it- and that was really wonderful!) over the cheese and roll tightly.

You could secure it with a toothpick, but I found that it wasn’t necessary if you rolled them tightly.

*This part is optional* dip rolled chicken in egg. It just helps the next step to stick the chicken.

I dipped them in 1 1/2-2 cups of almond flour that I seasoned with seasoning salt and pepper. (If you are not a GF household, you can also use breadcrumbs, as it traditionally calls for)

Place in greased pan (with the seam on the bottom)  and top each with some shredded cheese (I used a shredded asiago/parm blend)

bake @ 350 degrees for 35 minutes. And viola mini chicken cordon bleu! In healthier portion sizes! Use as appetizers or as the entree! I made it a combination of both! Once as the main entree (in whole chicken breast form… so stuffing, which is why I thought about making the portions smaller…) and then when I made the smaller rolls, I served 2 rolls over broccoli and rice. Very good!

Variation: This adds time, but it was really good, so I’m going to throw this out there, just in case you want to go above and beyond: Before placing the cheese and ham on your chicken, drizzle each chicken slice with some hollandaise sauce. (here’s the recipe for that I used) I had all the ingredients to just make it (And I wanted to start out my chicken cordon bleu process by starting with the fanciest version I could and work my way from there), but they sell packets for easy hollandaise sauce at your local grocer and that will work too. Just before baking drizzle remaining sauce over the rolled chicken. I would highly recommend trying it with the sauce. So yummy. I’m not sure if that’s traditional or not, but I read a lovely blog where he tried it, and figured I’d give it a go- well worth it!

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Sake it to me!


So today I actually got my house totally cleaned! organized ok, ok, so it’s picked up, at least to the naked eye, or more accurately, or at least hopefully, to the visiting eye! Things are where they’re supposed to be, beds are made, and toys were put away… and although I didn’t have time to mop the kitchen floor, I did get vacuuming done (upstairs). That counts for something, right?

Although with all the commotion I’m hearing going on downstairs, I’m guessing that it’s being undone as we speak as I type. Ugh. If only it were sunny. I love cleaning on sunny days. Don’t ask me why, but give me a sunny Saturday, a glass of wine (as long as it’s after noon, of course), some music, and someone to keep the kids away…and I am a happy camper! Weird, right?  But days like today, where it’s just blah, grey, and cold… I just want to curl up on the couch and watch a movie. I would really do just that too, if today weren’t Thursday (*my TV night* where my husband is usually sweet enough to keep the kids away while I relax and pretend that my only concern is if Callie and her baby really do make it after all, and will Lexi and Sloan ever make it work?) After all, I was so productive yesterday! But I’ll (hopefully!) stick to my guns, and get some laundry done. So that while I’m relaxing tonight I can feel like it’s not a total waste of time, since I’ll also be folding clothes! Need a good excuse or a way to make yourself feel better about taking time for yourself? Let me know, I’ll totally help you out! My favorite is eating salsa while watching “my shows.” Since Miss E can’t have anything with tomatoes, I’m really doing her a favor by making sure there isn’t any in the house…right? I ♥ my reasoning. (ha! It doesn’t usually actually work, the warding off the mommy-guilt, but I do what I can.)

Well, since I was so productive yesterday, and we had more visitors coming for dinner… we (and by we I mean mainly hubby-man) fed the kids (ours and our nephew) the chicken from the day before! (Yay for leftovers! Plus yay for tricky mamas! My nephew has the sweetest brown eyes, but can be a bit of a picky eater. I made dinner into a race -see who could eat the most, not the fastest- and even did a refill on the chicken when he wasn’t looking! That’s right Auntie got him to eat 2nds even! Yay for me!) Anyhow, then we  (same we as before…) made the “adult food” (which basically just means there’s tomatoes in it, or in this case- they needed to be fed immediately),

Back when hubby-man was also a military-man he did a deployment to Japan, where he fell in love with Korean bbq. When he came home he insisted on learning how to replicate it. And it was time well spent! This is another one of those meals that can look -and taste- like you spent a lot of time and money on it, but neither is true. And ooooh is it yummy! Hubby-man loves this recipe for crowd-feeding! I think he secretly loves that he makes it and therefore everyone oohs and aahhs over his culinary abilities.(I love that I’m not doing the cooking!)  Plus, then we get to use all the fun things purchased in Japan! And I’m down for any reason to get out (and use) the Sake set! Something about the miniture scale of it all just makes me feel like a little girl at a tea party! I love it!

Just talking about it has made me realize that it’s lunch time, I’m hungry, and there’s a dish of it set aside specifically for my lunch! I highly suggest you try it! Sooo good!

Meat and Veggies:

4 lb Round Steak (we used black angus)

3 bell peppers (we used 2 red and 1 orange)

2 med. yellow onions

Slice the beef, peppers, and onions in thin strips.

We realized upon cutting it up that it was a ton of food! And our guests ended up dropping off our nephew while they ran some errands. Which worked out perfectly because YAY LEFTOVERS!! So what we did was cook half and froze (the already sliced everything) the other half. So next time we’re thinking that it sounds good, or get unexpected company, no trips to the store will be necessary, we’ll just whip it out of the freezer and voila! You should also know that I LOOOVE peppers and so there’s nothing sparing about the amount of vegetables put in here. You could also add lots of other things, peas, mushrooms, broccoli… (those are things I’d like to try adding in). Plus, if you wanted to make it without meat, it would still be delicious! This is a good recipe to cook with more than one person, or do the slicing in advance. So that either one person slices while the other makes the sauce, or you’ve got it all prepared in advance and can make the sauce and you’re good to go. Either way.

Yakiniku Sauce

1 sm. onion

1 clove garlic

3 tbsp white wine

1 tbsp sea salt

2 tsp honey

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp roast sesame seed (lightly ground)

3 spring onion very finely chopped

I throw the onion, garlic, and spring onions in the food processor, but you can simply just finely chop them. Place in a saucepan with wine (or white wine vinegar) and cook for about 3 minutes while stirring fairly frequently. Add in the sea salt, honey, sesame oil, and lemon juice and cook for another minute. Let it cool and then add the sesame seeds.

Then throw this delicious concoction on top of the meat and veggies (we cook ours on our big griddle because it’s the perfect size, but you can always do it on the stovetop.) Making sure to stir so that everything is evenly coated. Serve over rice (or quinoa)!  Oh, and the sauce can be saved too. I like the extra for pouring over rice- yum! (plus tomato-less and gluten free!)

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Impressively simple


So this is quickly becoming a favorite, at least for me… or I see it becoming a favorite is probably a better term because I have only actually made this twice, but it is so yummy!

It’s pretty much the same chicken recipe that I used here With a few new twists. I found that this chicken is both delicious and easy. And since we also have guests this week it’s a good meal to make if you want to impress with your culinary skills and stick to a time limit and a budget! I think this would also be good served over rice (or quinoa), but I wasn’t sure when I made it, so I skipped that part. Next time, I think I’ll add rice. This time I used a ton of chicken (I figured it would be a crazy week so I cooked up between 6-8 (I can’t remember which now!) chicken breasts that I’d cut into strips. After cooking through I took out about 1/3 of the chicken to save for future meals. If I were only cooking the amount for this dish I would have cooked the “mix ins” along with it. The “mix ins” were one yellow onion, about 2+ cups of fresh spinach, about 2/3 cup of fresh chopped mango, about 1 cup of Trader Joe’s tomato-less salsa (a corn and chili salsa- so, so yummy!) with a few drizzles of olive oil. I did this in a pan along side the chicken.

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Once I removed the chicken to save for the rest of the week, I added in the “mix ins,” cooking over a low heat while stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. I also realized at this point that I’d forgotten to cook the chicken in lime, so I squeezed some extra lime juice in the mix. Voila! 20 minutes and dinner was done! And delicious!

See, wouldn’t this look terrific on top of rice?

So good, so easy, sooo… go make it!

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