Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Recipe: Mexican Gumbo

Hey y'all!  So long time no a few years long time no see!  I've been a busy gal but clearly not busy on here.  I am hoping to change that a little in 2016!  I will share more of what I have been up to and what I am hoping to do in the future but first fooooodddd.....

Have you ever been to Coyote Blues? If you are in Louisiana I am telling you to go there today!  Order their 'Chicken & Sausage Tortilla Gumbo' and have your life forever changed!  It is soooooo good!  We hit up their Lake Charles location a year or so ago (sigh...just thinking of the South makes my eyes well up.  Take me back!  I miss it so much).  ANYWAYS... this place on the outside is not a  make you swerve your car into their parking lot must check it out type place but no lie their gumbo is to die for.  Seeing as we lived in Texas it wasn't just a quick 15 minute trip when we craved it so I had to figure out a close enough recipe to tide me over and this is it!  I have never measured before so you may need to tweak the seasonings to your taste buds.  We like spicy and a lot of seasoning.  You may want to start with half and add more if needed.

Mexican Gumbo
4 C. shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken works great here)
1-2# Andouille Sausage
1 can Rotel
1-2 cartons chicken broth
1-3 jalapenos; depending on level of spice
1 tsp garlic
.5 tsp onion powder
.5 tsp chili powder
.5 tsp Mexican oregano
.25 tsp cayenne
.25 tsp cumin

optional for topping but delish:
sour cream

.25 C flour
.25 C fat of choice (I use vegetable oil for this dish)

Poblano Rice
2 poblanos, stems and seeds removed, roughly chopped
1 2/3 cups chicken stock
12 sprigs cilantro
1 cup basmati rice
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced

For the rice:  Head over to Rick Bayless or My Madison Bistro for instructions.  I pour mine in the rice cooker with basmati rice and substitute the green liquid just as I would use water.  Works perfectly.  I tried their pot method twice and am not much of a natural when it comes to rice cooking that way.

Mexican Gumbo
1. In a large pot make your roux.  If you don't know how to make a roux, bless your heart.  Girl you need to learn how and quick!  Here is a video.  We are going for a light brown roux.

Put your fat in the pan, let it warm a little and put your flour in.  Whisk/stir pretty much nonstop.  Once you have that golden brown color let it cool just a bit and dump your chicken stock in.  If your roux is too hot and/or you dump too slowly it will absorb that stock and you'll have more of your roux and no liquid.  Not a big deal in the end but does eat some of your liquid up and is a little harder to get mixed back in to the liquid.  If you pour too fast your roux will float around and you'll have to stir a little more to incorporate it.  Whisk until your roux is all mixed in, no lumps floating around.  At this point I have typically used just the one carton of chicken broth.  I like to have the second on hand in case I need to thin it out a little more.  Some times I need it, others I don't.

2.  When your roux and broth are combined, add your rotel (no need to drain)

3.  Add your seasonings.  You can add an extra can of Rotel or more green chilis if you'd like.  My husband is super weird about chunks of tomato so at this point I use my immersion blender in the pot to destroy those tomato chunks.  Not necessary at all!  I also rough chop a few fresh jalapenos and toss them in.  I keep them pretty big so I can scoop them out easily later. 

4.  Let this simmer while you brown your sausage.  You don't have to brown it but it does add a little deeper flavor and keeps some of that grease out of your pot.  Add sausage to the pot.

5.  Add your shredded chicken to the pot and simmer. Your gumbo is essentially done!  Let simmer to desired thickness and serve over your Poblano Rice.  No time for the green rice?  Serve it over white or brown rice!  Promise me one day you will make the poblano version really is better!  So much flavor! I've even served it over the packages of chicken flavored rice.  Gasp I know the cancer that must be in that envelope but poblano rice is a little time consuming and well sometimes a girl needs a shortcut! 


Sunday, February 10, 2013

DIY Thread Rack Tutorial

Build a thread rack for yourself!!

A few months back I spotted this handy gem on Pinterest and KNEW I had to make it!  I did alter the size to fit where I wanted to hang it and have to say it's one of the easiest but most useful projects I've completed.  Amazing how a few minutes and five dollars can make life easier and prettier!  

This project is pretty self explanatory but since I am building another one for my mom I thought I'd make up a quick building plan for you.  Hope you enjoy!  My finished rack is 11.5" by 25" and will hold approximately 64 spools of thread and coordinating spools depending on size and brand.  You can easily adjust the size depending on your needs though.  I wanted it to fit right there and knew I'd probably never have more than 64 spools anyways so it works.

You'll need to buy (2) 1x2x8 pick the straightest boards you can find!  I usually buy furring strips but if you prefer you can buy better boards for a few bucks more.  They tend to be smoother and straighter.  You will also need wood glue, nail and & nail gun or screws and wire nails or other small nails for the bobbins.  You will also need picture frame hangars or your favorite method of hanging should be fine too.

Cut your your 1x2x8 into the following pieces

(5)  23.5" long - for shelves

(2)  11.5" long - for sides

My "shelves" have about 2" in between them. 

If you don't plan to cut them down yourself have the guys at your favorite store cut them down to the following sizes.  We are Home Depot fans all the way but Lowe's will cut wood for you too!  Both may charge a quarter or so a cut after a few freebies but I've found as long as it's not a million they rarely charge.  You will want to be sure your boards are EXACTLY the same length or your rack won't fit nicely.  If you have ends like this hit them with your sander, it also won't hurt to run it along your boards to smoothen it up a bit.

Lay your rack out and pray that they are all exact otherwise you will have gaps and possibly worse.

A little wood glue and nails to hold it all together!

Almost done!

If you are going to paint it now is the time to do so.  I used wood filler for the nail holes and cracks, sanded and painted.  If you don't want to paint it you can add trim like the original poster or just leave it as is.  I am not usually a fan of spray paint but this project is one that spray paint is definitely a little easier than getting your paintbrush in all the corners evenly. I've hand painted one and spray painted one.  Both look great but spray was easier :)

Decide how you are going to hang your rack.  I chose traditional picture hangers and added one to each side after paint is dry.

Now you'll nail your bobbin nails approximately every 1.5" inches.  Remember to leave them out long enough for your bobbin to fit on!!   

Hang her up and add your pretty rainbow of thread!

Happy Building!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

The last few weeks leading up to Halloween we started talking about trick or treating, costumes, etc... Unfortunately the boys were both terrified of scary costumes, the masks in particular.  Apparently their sister putting one on in the store and coming around a corner to scare them left a lasting impression.  Someday I am sure they will refer to this as Halloween PTSD when discussing with their therapist.  We decided we would just go early and hope for the best with no big expectations, it is after all only Halloween.  We left around 530 and hit a few houses on our street.  All was good!  They were both mute even though we practiced saying "trick or treat", "thank you" and "happy Halloween" for the better part of the day.  Dex did mumble a thank you once or twice.  Since they were doing so well we decided to check out the neighborhood next to us (our neighborhood is geezer-ville....only 4 houses answered the door).  The boys did so great!  I was so proud!  They loved ringing the bell almost as much as they loved the candy.  As the sun went down the bigger kids in scary costumes started their night of tricks.  Sawyer saw 2 or 3 and said he was done.  I asked "how about one more street?  You don't want more candy?"  His reply, "No, I'm good." and that was that.  Home by 7pm so they could binge eat candy!  Halloween 2012 a success!  

I'll leave you with a few pictures of my little Dinosaur and baby Duck.  We have called Dex baby duck pretty much since birth because his hair is like baby duck feathers.

PS Karly was far too cool to join us ;)

The costume details if you are interested:
For Dex's shirt I simply hot glued a feather boa to a random turtleneck he already had, orange sweatpants and the duck feet pattern/tutorial from here.  I cut the pattern down to the seam allowance (inside line) and they fit pretty well for a size 7 shoe.  I also used felt on Dex's because I didn't read her directions before shopping :)

Sawyer's dinosaur I just added spikes to a hoodie, paired with matching sweatpants, I used this dinosaur tail pattern/tutorial, and used the same concept as the duck feet to make dinosaur feet I used broadcloth and felt inside for stability for them.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Freezer Cooking Round 8

Are you sick of these posts yet?  I have received a lot less input and feedback on them lately so perhaps you are all off and running with your own freezer recipes!  If so share with me!  I'm always looking for new good ideas!  Here are my last freezer meals.

We had a little cooler weather the last week so you know what that means...SOUP!  Oh how I love soup!  Not the creepy, nasty canned stuff but the real deal homemade soup!  I can't wait to try a few new recipes this winter!  

I prepared this all the way but didn't add the orzo or basil until we had it for dinner.  I cooked the orzo in a separate pot of water and it still absorbed a ton of the broth.  Next time I will make it more soupy or let the orzo absorb more water.  If you forget the basil this is a tasty chicken noodle soup :)  I made 2 dinners worth and froze in bags.

This stuff is super delish.  I do not add the gnocchi until the day we eat it and I cook them in a pot of water and add them to the soup when they are done.  I double the spinach and still think more could be added.  Also made 2 bags of this.

If you like salisbury steak this is delish.  It won't make the regular rotation at our house because the husband thought it was too much like Navy food ;)  I made the patties and froze them.  When it was time to cook them I forgot to brown them first.  They turned out tasty still but I am sure there was far more fat in the gravy than if I would have cooked some out ahead of time.

This made an appearance on our meal plan for the second time.  These burgers are delish!  I prepare the patties ahead so when we are having them for dinner I just have to let them thaw and toss them on the grill!  If you haven't tried these yet you are missing out.  

This is the first time I have tried this recipe as a freezer meal!  We haven't tried it yet so I'll keep you posted but see no reason why it won't come out perfectly.  I have had and enjoyed this made as a regular meal though.  I mixed all the ingredients and poured it along with the chicken into a bag.  

This is on our menu again for it's second appearance.  I do add a container of cottage cheese but otherwise I follow the recipe exactly.  I know cottage cheese is a cardinal sin in this case but we like it!  It adds a little extra nutrition and keeps everything a little more moist.  I prepare these all the way and freeze before baking.  I made 2 of them.

Yes, again!  My husband loves these things and so do the kids!  It's a rarity that I find a dish everyone will eat.  I dump the jar of pepperoncinis in the bag and freeze.  It really isn't necessary to do so but since I buy a 2 pack of roast I have to freeze them in bags anyways I thought I'd try and it works so hey why not.  I do not brown the meat ahead of time and think it tastes great.  We shred the meat and have shredded beef tacos the next night.  One crock pot freezer meal that equals 2 no cook dinners?? WINNER in my book!  

I hadn't planned to make these but had a little left over shredded chicken that was too much to toss and not enough to do a whole lot with.  We haven't eaten these yet but the alfredo sauce was delish the day I made it.  It wouldn't be super regular at our house because heller it's super fattening but if it's tasty it's a good way to use up a little chicken.  I'll keep you posted on the results.

Haven't tried this one but I'll keep ya posted.  It does have you brown the chicken ahead of time and for once I did as it directed.  That extra step for me means more work and dishes so it better be good or it won't make the cut as a freezer meal ;)

and lastly 

They don't have a picture for me to steal borrow and I haven't cooked this one yet.  I'll update once I do!

I didn't make this as a freezer meal but it was too tasty not to share!  Oh so delish!  It doesn't take very long to make and only uses one pan.  Of course my lazy side is going to try to make this a freezer meal soon :)  If you are looking for a quick and easy meal this one is worth trying!

There you have it 14 freezer meals in my freezer!  Happy momma here!  I also picked up a pack of chicken for pot pies but haven't gotten to it yet.  That should make at least 3 and maybe once other meal...I am thinking soup or enchiladas ;)

To see all previous freezer meal posts go here.
All recipes that have been deemed "tried and true" by myself are pinned here in case you are wanting to pin them quickly or are on your phone!

*all pictures property of the blogs they are linked to.  Thank you to the fabulous cooks out there sharing these for people like me that can't think up recipes from scratch! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Freezer Cooking Round 7

Freezer Cooking Round SEVEN!

I made these 3 weeks ago and have learned that I should blog them earlier because I forget a few things in that much I may have forgotten one of the recipes I made because I swear I made more than this haha!

We've had these a few times and really enjoy them.  This was my first time freezing them and additionally instead of the jumbo shells I used a large shell pasta so it was more of a casserole or pasta dish.  I am not wild about stuffing the jumbo shells with the filling and I thought it would freeze better as a dish instead of the stuffed shells alone.  It was tasty but I think the pasta to filling ratio was a little off.  I'll up my sauce next time.  I also am curious how this will do with lasagna noodles instead.  Either way, it was tasty as usual I'll just tweak it a little next time.  I made 2 servings of these each dinner frozen in a ziploc bag (remember to undercook your noodles!).  Defrost, dump in 8x8 pan and bake until hot. 

I am on the fence with these.  They were really, really tasty BUT they do use a can of cream of soup, and 2 packages of envelope mix.  That's a lot of mystery ingredients that I prefer to stay away from.  I am hoping I can recreate this healthier because it was really good.  When I question these types of recipes I do remind myself that my family also consumes restaurant and fast food from time to time and really I am pretty sure those are just as bad as the creepy envelope cream of foods. Sooooo if you are ok with less than clean ingredients from time to time make this!  If not, keep scrolling or feel free to clean it up and tell me how it goes so I can too :)  I cubed the roast, mixed all ingredients and froze in a ziploc.  Thaw and cook as directed.

Seriously this is the best burger ever.  I am not sure if it was because it was my first fatty food after super strict dieting or if it really is THE BEST but everyone LOVED this burger so I'm going with option 2.  I premade the patties and froze with wax paper in between them.  I sort of flash froze them in a single layer first and then stacked them and froze in a ziploc.  I completely thawed and we made ours on the bbq.  Do not skip the sauce.  It totally seals the deal!  So tasty.  These are going on the next meal plan as well.  

Mixed everything up only cooking the noodles about halfway.  Put it in a ziploc flat to freeze.  We haven't eaten this one yet but I promise to come back and update when we do!  

That's it for new recipes this round!  I also made 2 dinners of the cilantro lime pesto chicken tacos, pepperoncini dip sandwiches and shredded beef tacos.  For those recipes and all previous freezer posts click here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Freezer Cooking Round 6

To see all of my past freezer cooking posts and recipes click HERE

Freezer cooking has really become a part of my normal life at this point, along with meal planning now! For some reason meal planning has always been something that I built up in my head as this amazing thing that was way too hard for me to not only figure out but stick to.  I am blaming that mentality 5% on my own freaky if I can't do it perfect than I shouldn't do it at all attitude and 95% on the perfectly organized and beautiful meal plan boards, frames, and forms that I see all over Pinterest.  Every week I'd tell myself that I'll start meal planning next grocery trip because of course I first needed to make a lovely frame to post the daily meals and of course to make that I'd need an antique frame and a Silhouette to cut the vinyl letters for said frame, well you get the idea.  Then money got tighter than we had been used to in years and the need to cut our grocery bill significantly forced me to figure something out.  I sat down and picked out 10 dinners for the next 2 weeks.  We shop every 2 weeks when my husband gets paid.  I usually get the 10 meals plus some meat left over for another meal or 2, we may eat out one night, have left overs, etc...  10 meals may not work for you but you'll figure out what does.  I do not plan breakfasts, snacks, lunches, etc...  curse me, I know those beautiful pins have their meals planned down to the morsel.  I am not one of those pins.  We usually have cereal, eggs, bagels, english muffins, etc... around for breakfast.  Lunches my husband usually takes left overs or a salad or sandwich if there were no leftovers.  The girl eats a sandwich, chips, snack, etc.. and the boys get what I give them!  Ok so they usually have pb&j, grilled cheese, bagel or english muffin pizzas, frozen nuggets and fries if I am being really nice.  The only meals I plan are dinner and I don't plan them for any particular day.  I just have the list of my 10 meals on the fridge and we pick and choose knowing we have at least those meals plus others from previous freezer weeks.  

When picking out your meals for the 2 weeks I try to plan 2 meals using chicken breasts (4-5 if I am buying 2 packs), 2 meals using boneless skinless thighs, 3-4 meals using ground beef and then the rest are whatever I feel like.  Once you know what you can get out of your packs of meat it's easier.  This week I bought a pack of breasts, a pack of ground beef, a pork loin, and ended up having to get my thighs from the regular store which pissed me off and made me a meal short :(  I also picked up a chuck roast at the store because I didn't want to pay for two at Sam's even though it was a better deal buying it in bulk the dollars weren't there for it.   

I prefer to shop one day and then cook/prepare the next.  This week I did some the night that I shopped because my mom was here to help with the boys and I did the rest the next morning.  
Here is what I made with...

chicken breasts (2 dinners plus 2 extra breasts):
photo credit to linked recipe
Grilled Pineapple Chicken breast sandwiches- This picture was my inspiration.  I don't really use a recipe, it's kind of a no brainer.  I put the chicken breasts and pineapple rings in the ziploc and dump the marinade (whatever flavor you like)  in the bag reserving some for basting later.  Lay flat and freeze.  When ready to use just thaw the bag and bbq the chicken and pineapple!  

photo credit given to the linked recipe
Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken:  I sliced up a few breasts and made the marinade for this recipe.  Dumped it all in the bag again reserving some of the marinade (froze this as well) to use on the tacos.  My only concern for this one is that I have heard lime can actually cook the meat?  Their recipe has you cook the chicken and freeze after maybe that is why?  I prefer to not cook meat ahead when I don't have to.  I'll let you know how this one works freezing it raw.

I had 2 breasts left this week so I just cooked them up to use in salads.  I usually buy 2 packs of breast so the extra 2 from each pack makes a meal when I do that.

Chicken Thighs (1 dinner):  
I usually buy the big pack at Sam's.  They were out so I was a thigh meal short :(

picture credit given to the linked recipe
Spicy Honey Chicken:  For this recipe I put the rub on the thighs and froze.  This may seem sort of pointless since mixing some spices together and putting it on the chicken really isn't that hard to do but it makes a big difference for me.  Those nights that I have no desire to cook (most nights) or don't know what to cook this one step helps me.  I already know what the chicken will be and just have to thaw it and put it on the bbq.  I also usually buy my meat at Sam's so I'd have to split it up and freeze it in smaller portions anyways so I figure this step is not much more than I am already going to have to do.  you hear me? ;)  

This recipe was planned for my other thigh meal :(  Maybe next time!

Ground Beef (4 planned meals plus 1lb frozen plain):

photo credit given to the linked recipe
Italian Lasagna:  I made 2 of these.  We ate one that night and froze the other.  This was really, really tasty.  Even my husband loved it and he's not a lasagna fan.  The recipe does call for Italian sausage but I had a pack in the freezer.  I also added a 16 oz container of cottage cheese and and extra egg to the ricotta cheese step.  Prepare to the point that you would bake it and freeze instead. 

photo credit given to the linked recipe
Shepherd's Pie:  I have never tried this but it seemed frugal enough and I had a HUGE sack of potatoes that needed to be used.  I made and froze 2 of these.  I prepared it all the way to the point that I would have baked it and just froze it instead.  It looks tasty enough but I'll come back with a follow up later.  It is from Once A Month Mom and that site is pretty much the guru of freezer cooking so I trust it'll be good.

I also had enough mashed potatoes left so I made a twice baked casserole of sorts and froze for a side dish.  There are plenty of recipes out there for this.  I just threw it together on a whim.

I froze the remaining 1 pound of ground beef to use for spaghetti, hamburgers, or something later.

chuck roast (2 dinners):
photo credit given to the linked recipe
Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches:  This was the only thing I didn't do any pre prepping.  It's just that easy.  Dump the roast in the crock pot, pour the jar of pepperoncinis on top and that's it.  Their recipe does have you sear it and such but I didn't and it was delish.  Searing is just one more dirty dish so it wasn't going down.  The perk of this was not only a delicious super easy dinner but we had plenty of leftover meat for tonight's dinner, Shredded beef tacos!  If you didn't want the same meat 2 nights in a row you could just put the meat and the juices from the crock pot in a bag and freeze it.  Shredded meat is one of the easiest things to make in big amounts for freezing.  

Pork Loin (2 dinners):
I cut the pork loin in half knowing we had a few nights planned with extra people to feed.  I may have cut some chops off had I not needed larger servings stretching it to 3 meals easily.  Maybe I'll try it some time!

photo credit given to linked recipe
Sweet Pork Tacos:  Since I had to cut the pork loin down anyways I went ahead and put the spice rub on it and then froze.  Hey one less step later!  This is a family favorite of ours and has been for a long time.  The leftover meat freezes great as well!  Just shred, put some juices in the bag with it and freeze.

photo credit given to linked recipe
Brown Sugar & Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin:  again I just did the rub on this one and froze it.  I've had this a few times and it's really good.  Freezer and a crock pot meal?  Count me in.

So there you have it!  Twelve meals for about $60 in meat.  Not too shabby if you ask me!  Those meals that I make doubles of (lasagna, shepherds pie) we rarely eat both in the 2 week frame but instead will use a freezer meal that is in the freezer from previous weeks.  Most of these meals will have left overs for my husband's lunch and possibly a little extra.  The pork loins usually have a ton extra and aren't something we buy every grocery trip because they are higher priced.  Same with the roast, I typically would have bought a second pack of chicken for the same cost but sometimes it's nice to mix things up and still I got 2 dinners out of a $10 roast.  The thighs I should have gotten a second meal out of but the cost was double buying it at the grocery store!  One other thing I like to keep on hand is a bag of tilapia or other fish.  They thaw out really quickly and are great for a quick dinner if you forget to pull a meal from the freezer.  This week we had fish tacos for that exact reason.  Took 10 minutes to make and saved us a million calories and $30 for fast food!  Overall I am pleased.  I was only $15 over my $200 budget and have dinners all ready to go for the next 2 weeks.  

I am in no way the guru of freezer cooking.  I am barely a guru at my day to day life but am learning what works best for us.  If you are just getting started and are intimidated start small!  Make a double batch of your dinner and freeze the extra.  Pick 2 recipes that use the same meat and make those one afternoon or nap time.   You'll learn what works best for you after your first time or two I promise!

If you have any questions please let me know!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Freezer Cooking Round 5

You can see all of my freezer cooking posts HERE.

I recently posted my most recent freezer cooking on my Inner Hooker facebook page.  

A lot of you had questions, wanted more info, and requested links to this is for you!

This round was more prepping than cooking but will still save me lots of time later and money!  I can buy bulk meat and not just split it up into smaller portions but take one more step to prep it for that dinner.  This is also a great way to get started freezer cooking because it isn't too overwhelming.  

I started by purchasing my meat at Sam's Club (we don't have Costco :( sad!  and local meat is just not in my budget right now...double sad) .  I bought 2 packs of boneless skinless breasts (total about 11-12 lbs) , 1 pack of boneless skinless thighs (6 lbs), and a pack of ground beef (5-6 lbs).  From that I made 9 meals for the freezer, 1 for dinner that night, and froze 1 lb of ground beef and 1.5 C plain shredded chicken so that's really 11 meals...not too shabby for about $50 in meat and a few hours of my time.  It could have went much faster if I didn't have the boys running wild.  

Recipes I used: 

Meatloaf (x2):  my recipe:  I have been cutting back on the sugar and ketchup topping and it's still good.

Fajitas (x2):  I just slice the breasts into strips, add onions to the bag. One I poured in marinade, one I left plain.

Enchilada filling: used this recipe and had it for dinner but wasn't in love with it.  You can freeze the enchiladas all rolled up but I prefer them fresh.  Just thaw your filling and then make the enchiladas as normal.

Chicken soft taco filling:  this recipe looks delish but I have a hard time with cream of soups so I just did 2 C shredded chicken and salsa mixed up and frozen.  I do love the way the original recipe looks so I may try it one of these times.

Man Pleasing Chicken: put chicken thighs in bag, add ingredients and freeze.

Russian Chicken :  put thighs in freezer bag, dump in the ingredients and freeze.

Chicken Sandwiches:  put chicken breast and pineapple rings in the bag, dump marinade in.  I keep a little marinade in the bottle to baste with when bbq'ing later.

This is a pretty brief rundown but I promise there isn't much to these!  The are pretty simple (inexpensive/not too many ingredients) recipes.  If you have any questions just let me know!