Saturday, May 2, 2009

Easy Cashew Chicken

This picture shows off another joy in my life...orchids. My grandfather was a florist, and my earliest memories are watching him in his floral shop (The Garden Floral in Ogden) arranging huge bouquets of gladiolas for funerals.

My grandmother created beautiful corsages in the back room. She was indeed an artist.
Rolls of various ribbons, wires, and tape covered the walls, along with vases and pots customers could pick out. The walk-in refrigerator was a kaleidoscope of color: roses, ferns, baby breath, stephenotis, tulips, daffodils, mosses, and, of course, gladiolas.

I helped once in a while, and my favorite task was making brandy snifter wedding centerpieces, with a pink rose in the center of a bunch of luxurious fragrant violets Grandpa grew in his backyard. He
also grew exotic orchids in his backyard greenhouse.

My Grandmother created my stunning wedding bouquet--with a huge Catalaya orchid in the center. My Grandfather had been killed in a robbery two years before I married, but his spirit was felt.

I love the scent of flowers--all kinds--because they remind me of a simpler day and I am enveloped in the memories of my Grandparents love.

Back to the menu!

Easy Cashew Chicken

4 boneless, chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 cup cashews
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve over cooked rice. I prefer brown, but it does take 45 minutes to cook. If you start it when you walk in the door, by the time you change clothes, read the mail, and set the table, it's almost done!
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Savory Turkey Burger and Oven Fries

This is one of my favorite replacements for "fast food". Tastier, more nutritious, cheaper, and it really doesn't take very long, so it's almost easier, too.

You can use whatever bun you want, but a grilled/lightly toasted cheesy onion-type roll really adds flavor.

Savory Turkey Burgers

Mix the following and form into 4 patties:
1 lb. lean turkey burger
2 Tbsp dried onion
2 Tbsp Beef Bouillon
1 Tbsp water
1 egg
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, cut up
2 pressed garlic cloves

4-6 onion slices

Cook the patties in a fry pan (or grill for summer fun). When one side is browned, turn to the other side and add the onions to the pan to brown. Cook the patties until meat is no longer pink in the center and the onion is browned and tender. Add 1 slice of Swiss cheese and let melt.
Place burger on bottom of bun, top with onion slices and lettuce, and spread 1 Tbsp honey mustard on top half of bun.

Oven Fries

Cut 4-6 potatoes into wedges. If you have time, soak the wedges in cold water from 15 minutes to a couple of hours to leech some of the starch out, then drain and dry with kitchen towel. This is totally optional, but makes them a tad bit crispier.

Turn oven to 425 degrees. In a flat bowl or dish with low sides, pour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp Italian herbs (you can create your own mix of rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, parsley, or use bottled spices).
Add 1 Tbsp paprika.
Turn the potatoes in the oil mixture and set on a large cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, take out of oven, turn over with a spatula, sprinkle Parmesan cheese lightly over the top (I like to use fresh cheese, but the bottled tastes good too. Use whatever you have in the pantry to make it easier.
Cook another 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt, if desired, but it really doesn't need it.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Turkey Tacos

When I start craving food, it's usually Americanized-Mexican. Tostadas; taco salad (anything with the word salad is good for you, right?); nachos with lots of tomatoes, black olives, homemade guacamole, a dollop of sour cream, dripping with melted cheese; tacos; ...somehow these foods satisfy the animal within better than most for me. These are the some of the comfort foods from my childhood.

Although I must confess: When I was about 12 years old, I would not eat a crisp corn taco shell. I threw a fit when my mother tried to put the taco fixings in the shell. A real spoiled-kid tantrum. I told her matter-of-fact that I was allergic to crunchy food. Unbelievable. If I ever do the "Peggy Sue got Married" thing and go back to my past childhood, first thing I'm going to do is slap myself silly.
My mother put the filling on a piece of bread, folded it over, and handed it to me, and yes, I ate my taco sandwich happily. I outgrew the aversion to the shell, but never lost the feeling that she cared enough to play along with my idiosyncrasies.

Here is my recipe for Turkey Tacos.

(Makes enough filling for 24-36 medium taco shells)

2 lbs lean ground turkey (ground beef works fine--my husband prefers not to eat much beef)--brown in a pan.
2 yellow onions--cut up and stir into the browned meat. Stir and cook for 3 or 4 minutes.
3 cloves garlic--mince and stir into the meat mixture, cooking for another 2 minutes.

Stir the following ingredients into the meat:

1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies, clean out the can with about 1/4 cup of water and add.
2 cans kidney or black beans, drained
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp crushed dried pepper
1 tsp ground cumin

While the ingredients are simmering for a few minutes, prepare the following in whatever amount you prefer and serve in pretty bowls:

Cheddar cheese, grated
Tomatoes, diced with fresh cut-up cilantro
Lettuce (your favorite, as long as it's fresh and crunchy)
Black olives, sliced
Avocados, cut and mixed with an optional tsp of fresh-squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning
Light sour cream
Crisp Corn tortilla shells--heat for 5 minutes in 350 oven

Fill each shell with 1-2 Tbsp meat mixture, then top with whatever ingredients tickle your palate! Enjoy!

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