What’s New For Dinner: African Peanut Butter Stew

Welcome to my series called “What’s New For Dinner?” This is going to be a weekly posting sharing a new recipe that I have tried throughout the week. This is my way of keeping our meals from getting boring and attempting to try new foods. I’m doing this fun challenge with my friend, Jenn from Super Jenn.

This last week, I wanted to try a recipe that I could make in my new Cuisinart Cast Iron Dutch Oven. I found it on a great deal on one of those daily deal sites. While I knew the pans tend to be heavy, I wasn’t quite prepared for just how heavy. I was off balanced grabbing the box from my front step and almost fell off of it as I was bowled over by its weight. I keep telling myself I’ll have to continue to keep cooking with it more so I can build up those biceps! :)

Anyway, when I was checking out reviews for it on Amazon, I saw that several people also bought the Glorious One-Pot Meals: A Revolutionary New Quick and Healthy Approach to Dutch-Oven Cooking book. So I had to check it out to see what kind of recipes it offered. When I was flipping through it, the one that caught my eye was one titled, “African Peanut Butter Stew.” Hmmm, a peanut butter stew sounded like something I might be able to get the kids to try—so I chose that as this week’s adventure.

Here’s the recipe and some pics to follow:

Canola oil or 2 tsp peanut oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3/4 cup white rice
3/4 cup plus 1 TB broth (chicken or vegetable) or water
1/2 to 3/4 lb chicken breasts or thighs
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
2/3 cup milk or water
2-4 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1/2 tsp cayenne
Sea salt, to taste
3 TB peanut butter, chunky or creamy
3 to 4 tomatoes, diced or one 14 oz can diced, drained
1/2 sweet potato, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 handful of fresh spinach or 5 oz frozen

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2) Spray the inside and lid of a cast-iron Dutch oven with canola oil or wipe with peanut oil
3) Scatter the diced onion in the pot.
4) Rinse the rice in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clear. Add the rice and the broth/water and stir to make an even layer.
5) Place the chicken on the rice. Add the bell pepper.
5) Whisk the milk, garlic, cayenne, sea salt, and peanut butter in a measuring cup until the peanut butter dissolves. Pour over the chicken.
6) Layer in the tomatoes, sweet potato, and spinach.
7) Cover and bake for 45 minutes or “until 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully cooked meal escapes the oven.” Serve immediately.

Here are a few pics from ours:

This is how the pan looked after it was done.


This is a picture of the meal, though not a good one as the veggies all seem to be hidden on the bottom.

VERDICT:
I did enjoy the stew but I think I will do a couple things differently next time. I put the chicken breasts in the pot whole, and I think they’d be better cut-up and spread out across the stew as it will be easier for the kids. I also will add more spinach to it. While it looked like a lot when I put them on there, I forgot how much spinach wilts down and it didn’t seem like much after they were cooked. (If you don’t like spinach much, though, stick with the original recipe!) And lastly, I will definitely check my rice before taking it out of the oven. Only some was completely cooked, while the other was only halfway done, making it a crunchier stew. :)

So this was my cooking adventure for last week. (Side Note: Jenn won’t have recipes up for awhile. While she’s continuing to make one each week, she’s in the process of moving–and with three little kids. So you can all imagine just how busy she is and hasn’t been blogging much! ) Did any of you try to make anything new? I’d love to hear about it!

What’s New For Dinner: “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day”

Welcome to my series called “What’s New For Dinner?” This is going to be a weekly posting sharing a new recipe that I have tried throughout the week. This is my way of keeping our meals from getting boring and attempting to try new foods. I’m doing this fun challenge with my friend, Jenn from Super Jenn. So check her site for what she’s tried this week, too!

My apologies on getting this posted late. I got caught up in some other projects and forgot to post it this week! This week’s recipe challenge was a fun one. One that was several months in the making. Oh, it didn’t take that long. But I’ve just had the book about that long with the intent of “someday” hopefully happening. My dear friend, Christy, put up a posting on how she makes homemade bread using Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients. I left her a comment saying it looked like fun and I’d have to get the book sometime. Well, immediately she sent me a text message saying, “Jaycie, No! Don’t buy it! It’s already on its way to you.” The sweetie sent me a surprise copy. We do this sometimes when we come across something we love. We’ll surprise the other one with something just to brighten their day. I am so truly blessed to have her as a friend.

I couldn’t quite get to making the bread as I didn’t have any of the supplies that I wanted to use. Well, over the holidays, I watched for deals on a Baking Stone, a Pizza Peel and worked on finding the right sized container for the bread to rise. (Found a set at Sam’s Club) You can make it without the stone or peel, I’m sure,  but I planned on making this frequently enough to make it worth the investment. The Pizza Peel I found is so gorgeous that I just hang it up as a wall decoration in my kitchen, when it’s not in use!

This was a simple recipe so I let the kids help me with it. I always let them help me in the kitchen when it comes to just dumping in ingredients and stirring. When it comes to hot ovens/stoves, that becomes their playtime and I finish up. Here’s how the process went:


We mixed up all the ingredients in a 6 quart container, put a lid on it (popped a little to vent) and then it rise at room temperature for 2 hours. No kneading involved! It then said it was easier to work with cold and the flavor is best if you wait for 24 hours. So after it was done rising, we put it in the fridge and waited.

Then, I took out the dough, dusted it with flour and cut off a 2 pound piece and formed it into a loaf shape. I placed it on my pizza peel, covered it with saran wrap and let it set for 90 minutes.


30 minutes before baking time, I preheated the oven to 350. After the 30 minutes were up, I placed the loaf onto the baking stone and let it bake for about 45-50 minutes.


When it looked nice and golden, I took out the loaf and let it cool on a Cooling Rack. We had warm bread for some sandwiches and more dough in the fridge for more loaves later in the week.

Now the reason I’m not sharing the recipe with you is because there are so many recipes in the book. This particular one was for soft whole wheat sandwich bread. Also, Amazon has a great video clip of How To Make The Bread. They used a different recipe than I did but it’s one you can try.There are far too many varieties to post. The book is well worth checking out at your library–and then purchasing if you find it’s right for you.

I’m excited to see that they are also coming out with a pizza and flatbread recipes book that is scheduled to release October 2011. And they also have another book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.

This was a fun little adventure for me and the kids. They got the biggest kick out of watching all the steps in the bread-making process. We are going to be adding this to our weekly routine as there’s just nothing like the taste (and smell!) of homemade bread.

Don’t forget to check out Jenn’s adventure this last week, too. Did any of you try a new recipe this week? I’d love to hear about how it went.

What’s New For Dinner?: Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce and Meatballs

Welcome to my series called “What’s New For Dinner?” This is going to be a weekly posting sharing a new recipe that I have tried throughout the week. This is my way of keeping our meals from getting boring and attempting to try new foods. I’m doing this fun challenge with my friend, Jenn from Super Jenn. So check her site for what she’s tried this week, too!

This week, I wanted to try something that  my son could help me make–and that I could turn into a Dinner & a Movie night. I have never made homemade spaghetti sauce before–always just dumping something out from a store-bought jar– nor have I ever made an attempt at homemade meatballs. So this was my “challenge” for this week.

Up until this point, I didn’t allow my son to help me cook anything involving raw meat. But I figured if I watched him closely, he’d be just fine. I’m glad I did as he had a blast rolling up some meatballs with me. I spent quite a bit of time stressing the importance of washing your hands very well after handling raw meat and how he shouldn’t touch his face, etc with his “grimy” hands. I had to laugh when the rest of the week he kept asking me if it was “good meat” or not whenever I’d make something. And we chuckled as he explained to his Daddy that it goes in yucky meat and comes out new cooked meat that we can eat. Just when you think they aren’t listening to you, right?

So for this recipe, I just followed a recipe I found on AllRecipes.com. My favorite part was how the house filled up with a delicious smell of garlic. The least favorite part (which was my own fault) was not reading the recipe completely to see that the sauce simmers for 90 minutes, and then takes another 30 minutes after you add the meatballs. I really just skimmed it too quick.  The plan was to make this and then watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs but we ended up starting the movie and then pausing it when supper was ready. It worked out just fine, though.

Here’s a picture of the meatballs my son and I made:

And here’s a picture of our meal:

VERDICT: I am definitely adding this one into my monthly meal plan as I thought it was a fabulous recipe. It makes a lot of food so we had plenty of leftovers for another meal, or two. Had I been thinking, I would have saved some of the meatballs to make meatball sandwiches the next night. I actually want to try to freeze them, and the sauce, so I can see how it tastes for a night I need to make a quick meal. Next time–we’ll probably watch Lady and the Tramp , as I love the scene of the dogs eating the spaghetti and the kids haven’t seen it yet! :)

Next week, I’ll be sharing a recipe that goes very well with this one! Did any of you try to make anything new this week? I’d love to hear about it! Don’t forget to check out Jenn’s latest adventure this week –she made a Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal Recipe. You can also check out some of the past recipes I’ve tried this year.

What’s New for Dinner: Baked Chicken Nuggets

Welcome to my series called “What’s New For Dinner?” This is going to be a weekly posting sharing a new recipe that I have tried throughout the week. This is my way of keeping our meals from getting boring and attempting to try new foods. I’m doing this fun challenge with my friend, Jenn from Super Jenn. So check her site for what she’s tried this week, too!

I didn’t feel very adventurous this week. So when I saw that All Recipes had a recipe of the day for Baked Chicken Nuggets, I knew that would be what I’d make this week—something simple yet still something I had never tried before.

I have two toddlers and they are in that big chicken nugget phase. So I like the idea that I can make my own and I’ll know exactly what ingredients are in it. When I made this, I picked up some Organic Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts. The first thing you do is to cut them into 1 – 1/2″ pieces. I made some of ours a little smaller since the kids are still fairly young.

Next, you mix up the spices and Parmesan Cheese. The cheese is what makes these taste really good! You’ll keep those in a separate bowl from the chicken pieces.

Then, you’ll melt your butter and keep it separate from the other two bowls. After that, spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. When your prep work is done, it will look like this:

Now begins the process of coating the chicken pieces. You’ll first dip them in the melted butter. Then coat them in the spices and Parmesan cheese mixture. After this step, lay the coated chicken pieces on the sprayed cookie sheet. Continue doing this until all the pieces are coated. It will look something like this:

When I was reading the reviews on this recipe, a lot of the commenters recommended flipping the chicken pieces halfway through. So I set the timer for 10 minutes instead and then flipped them over and reset the timer for another 10 minutes. I had no issues keeping the coating on and they didn’t seem to be greasy that way, either. (Don’t forget to check that your chicken pieces are fully cooked!) This was what ours looked like when we were done:

During the cooking time, I had chopped up some watermelon and I also steamed some Organic carrots in one of those microwave steam bags for our side dishes. It worked out perfectly for time!

The Verdict:

I didn’t have any Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs so I had used regular and threw in some Italian Seasoning. I put a little too much but it still tasted really good. I’ll be looking for a sale on the Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs when I make these again. These were very tasty and not one bit greasy. I liked being able to eat chicken nuggets that tasted like real chicken instead of that processed stuff. We’ll be making these for a lot of future lunches! I’m going to have to test out how these freeze so I can just pop them in the microwave on busy days.

Well, that was my new recipe for this week. Did any of you try to make something new, too? I’d love to hear about it! Don’t forget to check out Jenn’s site later for when she posts her latest cooking adventure, too!

What’s New For Dinner: Crockpot Beef Stew

Welcome to my series called “What’s New For Dinner?” This is going to be a weekly posting sharing a new recipe that I have tried throughout the week. This is my way of keeping our meals from getting boring and attempting to try new foods. I’m doing this fun challenge with my friend, Jenn from Super Jenn. So check her site for what she’s tried this week, too!

So I was debating what I would make for my new recipe this week and then the new Taste of Home Magazine showed up and as soon as I saw the cover, I knew I had to make some Crockpot Beef Stew. It’s perfect for this time of year on a cold night.

If you subscribe to their magazine, you’ll find this recipe on page 45 of the Feb/March 2011 issue.

Ingredients
1 lb. of Beef Stew Meat
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can (14.5 oz ) beef broth
1 can (11.5 oz) V8 juice
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TB cornstarch
1 TB cold water
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas

Your prep work will consist of peeling/cubing potatoes, peeling/chopping carrots, chopping celery, chopping the sweet onion and cutting up your meat if you don’t buy it pre-cut. When I made this, I bought a roast and cut it into 3 – 1lb sections. I weighed it out with my Kitchen Scale and then put two of them in their own individual Ziploc bags so I can now easily make up two more batches of beef stew. I saved money by not buying the pre-cut beef stew meat as it cost quite a bit more per pound.

After all your prep work is complete, you’ll put the first 12 ingredients into your crockpot. (That’s everything from the beef stew meat down through the pepper.) Cover it and let it cook on low for about 7-8 hours. Now, my crockpot tends to run a little hot, so mine was good to go soon after 6 hours. So make sure you check to see how yours is around that time, just to be sure.

After this time-frame, be sure to carefully pick out your bay leaves. Don’t worry that your stew is a little liquid-y. It will thicken up soon as your next step is…

Combine your cornstarch with the water and stir it until it’s smooth. Stir it into the crockpot. This will help thicken up your stew.

Next, you’ll add your frozen corn and peas. Turn your crockpot up to High now and let it cook for about 30 minutes or until your stew thickens some. And your end result should look something similar to this….

This was my new recipe that I tried for this week. Don’t forget to check out Jenn’s adventure this week as she made Mini Taco Cups, which might make for a great Super Bowl Sunday appetizer, too! Did any of you try to make something new this week? I’d love to hear about it!

What’s New For Dinner? : Acorn Squash Soup

Welcome to my series called “What’s New For Dinner?” This is going to be a weekly posting sharing a new recipe that I have tried throughout the week. This is my way of keeping our meals from getting boring and attempting to try new foods. I’m doing this fun challenge with my friend, Jenn from Super Jenn. So check her site for what she’s tried this week, too!

Between my son’s birthday party and being at a conference most of the week, I honestly didn’t get to squeeze in a new recipe last week. The night before I left for my trip, I stood there with all my ingredients ready to make this next recipe and I decided that spending that last bit of time with the kids was my higher priority. So first thing when I got back, I whipped up a batch of the recipe I had chosen for last week which was Acorn Squash Soup.

I had some leftover squash from the CSA I belonged to and I was looking for a unique recipe to use it in. My hubby isn’t very fond of squash and when I saw this one, I thought it might be one he might like, though.

You have to start off with some prep work of cutting the onion, dicing celery, cooking the bacon and cooking the squash. Once you get the prep work done, the rest of the recipe goes fairly fast. If you wanted to save a little time, you could probably use real bacon bits from a jar, since the bacon is really just sprinkled on top of the soup for a little extra flavor. (I’m wishing I had chopped mine up finer instead of bigger chunks.) I personally like to microwave my bacon using this Presto Microwave Bacon Cooker so I just had that going while I was chopping up veggies. But here’s a tip: If you are like me and find it impossible to cook and chop bacon without eating it, you may want to cook up 6 slices instead of 5!  I just cooked the whole package hoping to save some for sandwiches the next day but my kids and hubby stole them on me! :)

To cook the squash, I microwaved mine in an 8×8 pan with a little water in it. (The squash was cut in half, seeds/strings removed and turned upside down.) I want to say it took closer to 12-15 minutes per half. If I had followed the directions on the squash for cooking in the oven, it would have taken 40 minutes.  I was able to mash up the first half while I was waiting for the second half to cook, so it worked out real nice. Just be very careful when removing these from your microwave as the dish, squash and water will be very hot.

After having all my ingredients cooked, chopped and measured correctly, I started sauteing the onions and celery in the butter I had melted in the pan.

Next, I added the flour and spices mixture and stirred them until blended.

Then I gradually added the chicken broth and evaporated milk, stirring frequently, until it boiled for about 2 minutes.

Next I added the salt, pepper and the squash that I had cooked and mashed up with a fork beforehand, stirring that into the recipe. Then came the fun part. You need to blend the soup. I didn’t want to mess with a blender so I looked online for a deal for an Immersion Hand Blender and ended up finding a good price on Amazon for it. (Yup, that’s where that deal came from!) :)  It was so easy to blend and I’m so glad I picked one of these up. I plan on using it for a lot of soups coming up. Just be careful and follow all manufacturer’s directions when using this. I was very happy with how easy it was to clean and I didn’t have to mess with pouring this into the blender in batches.

The end result:

The verdict:

When my hubby saw it, he wasn’t sure if it was cheese soup or what. After tasting it, he said that if I hadn’t told him it was squash, he might not have guessed that’s what it was. I was in complete shock that he liked it. It just has this super creamy texture and it’s delicious! I think part of why it’s so tasty is that little bit of curry powder. My kids did eat theirs but I think next time I make it, I’ll put theirs in a bread bowl since they like dipping things.

I think this recipe is perfect for the fall when squash is in season and the weather typically gets a little cooler. I definitely will be making it again–I am actually looking forward to the leftovers!

So that’s my recipe for last week. I will still have a new one coming at you on Friday for this week. Did any of you try to make anything new this last week? I’d love to hear your stories!

What’s New for Dinner? : Lemon Garlic Tilapia

Welcome to my series called “What’s New For Dinner?” This is going to be a weekly posting sharing a new recipe that I have tried throughout the week. This is my way of keeping our meals from getting boring and attempting to try new foods. I’m doing this fun challenge with my friend, Jenn from Super Jenn. So check her site for what she’s tried this week, too!

Oh, this week I had such high hopes for new recipes. I had three of them picked out ready to go and then life happened. My family and I all caught a terrible flu bug. And let me tell you, the last thing on your mind when you have the flu is food. Especially new recipes. I was fortunate enough that a few days before the sickness hit, I did get to try one new recipe called Lemon Garlic Tilapia. One of my goals this year is to try to get more fish/seafood into our monthly menu plan. I’m not one to like the more smelly or strong tasting fish varieties so I’m usually pretty leery about venturing out and trying new fish. I had heard a few good things about tilapia so I figured that would be one for us to try. I wanted a very simple recipe—and one that I had all the ingredients on hand–so I choose the Lemon Garlic Tilapia one I found on AllRecipes. (one of my favorite recipe sites)

I was very surprised at how simple the recipe actually was to make. It didn’t require much prep work and while it was baking, I had time to clean up my kitchen. You gotta love multi-tasking!

The Verdict: I think we’ll definitely be adding this into our menu routine randomly. I made the mistake of not cutting back on the lemon, as I only used three fillets but it still tasted pretty good.  I think next time I make tilapia, I’ll try a breaded recipe, possibly this Ranchy Breaded Fillets one.

Well, that’s my small cooking adventure for the week. I’ll have to save the other two I had planned for another week. Did any of you branch out from your typical menus and try something new this week? I’d love to hear about it!