Oh yes I have lots of food stuffs to share. Unfortunately, in none of my food stuffs did I have the foresight to take pictures. But I must say I rocked the kitchen this week in a mad, mad way! As the school year progresses we all start to feel like we can catch our breath and it becomes a little less Pizza Hut feeding the Eichenauer’s and a little bit more of the Eichenauer’s becoming self-sufficient and cooking for themselves. Our biggest issues is lack of time. We have piano lessons, dance and sometimes softball. Add in meetings for work, classes for me and just sometimes needing to stay after work and some days I try and convince my family that string cheese and pepperoni’s are a meal. In fact, my # 2 has named those nights tapas nights. We literally take all the things we have that we can right now, cut them into small pieces and add in a yogurt/pudding or applesauce and it is Tapas Night at the Eichenauers.
My biggest battle in the kitchen (beside time) is I get really tired of cooking the same recipes over and over. I get really tired of being the one that always decides what is for dinner. I have found the more I rely on what the girls actually want the less bored I get. As well, my # 2 is becoming my sous chef. The girl loves to cook and really I haven’t found much she is afraid of. So together we usually tackle our family meals.
Baked Chicken Parmesan Breasts
This week we made an Eichenauer favorite. A recipe that stemmed from one my mother in law makes. But in the kitchen I am queen of change meaning I make recipes my own by changing something in them. Sometimes it can be out of necessity and sometimes it is just because I am creative in the kitchen. But this change happened out of necessity. My girls love grammy’s Parmesan chicken breasts. I love them too! I remember her making them when I was dating my guy. They are a mix of buttery parm, bread crumbs and baked. They are so good. Well we didn’t think it could be topped. Till one night that was the request from my girls. I agreed to make it and I went to go get my breadcrumbs and was out of luck. I had none. I don’t really used pre-made breadcrumbs. I usually will make my own or use panko. I had none though. So in a panic I was not sure what to do and my # 2 suggested using Zesta saltine crackers and I thought okay. I added some Italian seasoning and the rest was the same. Immediately, we had a hit! We loved the crispness. It makes it almost like fried chicken without all the fat. I have a recipe but it is loose.
- Melt two tablespoons of butter and add 1/4 cup of water (sometimes we will add milk if we are feeling fatty)
- In a bowl mix 1/2 cup of smooshed saltine crackers and 3/4 cup of parmesan
- I add in a tsp of italian seasoning and I smoosh it in my hands to wake it up (I use dried herbs here)
- Slather chicken in the liquids and then the dries
- Bake at 350 for 45 mins or until juices are clear.
- EAT and enjoy!
Baked Ziti ala Pioneer Woman
This week we also made probably one of the best Italian dishes I have had in awhile. We saw her show last Saturday and I made the recipe from my head from what I could remember. I solely made this because my # 3 kept begging for it. If you know my # 3 you know that her begging for food should be listened too. The girl never eats. So if something has her going, you feed it to her because it won’t last and sometimes I worry she will wither away. And no I am not a short ordered cook. Remember the tapas? The girl lives off of string cheese or mickey shaped cheese and turkey pepperonis. Oh and cookies.
Anyway, I have found out this year if a recipe calls for ricotta. Do not put cottage cheese in it. Do not substitute with anything else. I am serious. You are committing a sin if you do. If you want lower fat the ricotta peeps made that for you so get that. But I repeat do not substitute with anything else. It makes your Italian recipes that call for it simply divine and creamy. You will thank me I promise.
So first things first. Brown your hamburger. For me I mince about 3 tbsps of an onion and two garlic cloves to brown with my hamburger. I usually just use 1/2 lb of hamburger or 1lb if we are feeling meaty. My girls like the meat to sauce ratio to lean toward the sauce versus the meat. Once it is browned, drain. Throw back into the pan and make sure it is bigger and add in your sauce of choice. You could make your own sauce here and I would if it were the weekend or if I had some in freezer. But I didn’t. I choose Ragu original because the others are either blucky tasting or have too many herbs. Let it simmer and while it is hanging out get out a bowl and dump in a small container of ricotta and you could certainly use more if you wanted but I am not a gigantic cheese fan so smaller is better for us. Also toss in a egg and add some Italian seasoning. About a tsp. I smoosh in my hands again to wake up. I also add in about 1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Then mix all together. While all of that is happening cook your pasta. We used ziti.
Now you are going to get out a 9×13 pan or two 8×8’s. Layer it similar to lasagna. First layer down is meaty sauce and make take a little more than regular layers to cover your pan. then pasta. Then cheese mixture and once I am on the cheese mixture layer sometimes I will add in grated mozzarella. It is up to you and your preference. Continue till you end with a meaty sauce layer. Then add in grated moz and parm and bake. It shouldn’t take long here maybe 20 minutes on 350. Serve with a salad and bread and you are all good. Enjoy!
Here in the midwest we like our chili. I have lived in both Indiana and Ohio and I have found that eating chili is so different for each state. However, I am a Hoosier born and breed. Therefore, my chili preference mirrors my heritage. Now my guy, he is a traitor and enjoys the Buckeye variety. He rarely gets it because sweet chili is so hard for me to put my head around. I usually will make it once or twice a year, but not much more.
Mine is way more simple.
- Brown 1lb of hamburger with half a minced onion (I have kids all my onions are minced)
- Boil pasta shape of choice while cooking (you can add it into your chili if you are like a thicker chili. It does suck all of the moisture out so I usually do it on the side)
- Drain meat add back to soup pan. Add in a half a box of chicken stock or the full thing depending on how runny you want it
- Add in a large can of tomato sauce. Here you can substitute for a large can of crushed or whole tomatoes. My family doesn’t like tomato chunks so I just go with sauce.
- Add in a can of brooks chili beans
- Add in chili powder to preference (sometimes I will use a brooks chili packet…depends on my mood)
- Let cook and serve over pasta to preference.
It may be boring, but it is good and my family loves it. We serve it over zesta crackers or fritos. Add some cheese and yum!
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy these recipes!