Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fab Five

We had our January meeting yesterday, 1/17 and it went very well!  We had a new addition, Beth, join the group! Kinda bummed since Barb will no longer be a part of the group as she's moving on down to Florida
:0( we will miss her! It was fitting that for our fifth meeting we had five participants...some of our regulars decided to put this month on hold due to full freezers, but I hope they'll be back for next month.

Our menu for January:
*Gnocchi with mushroom cream sauce
*Vegetarian Chili
*Vegetable Lasagna
*Stuffed Shells

Excited for February!

Broccoli and Mushroom Lasagna

1/3 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups low fat milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
10 oz sliced mixed mushrooms
12 traditional lasagna noodles (about 1 lb)
 1 15 oz container reduced fat ricotta cheese, mixed with 1 egg
2 cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a decent size lasagna pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium saucepan, whisk flour and 1 cup of the milk until smooth. Stir in remaining 2 1/2 cups milk and bring to a boil; boil for about 3 min, WHISKING CONSTANTLY (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT), you dont want it to stick to the bottom or curdle, do this until it is thickened. Whisk in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Set aside.
>> Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water, lightly salted and about 1TBS of oil in it to boil. Add the broccoli and cook 4 min; add the mushroom during the last min of cooking time. Using a slotted spoon, remove both the broccoli and the mushrooms to a bowl. set aside. In the same pot of water, add the lasagna noodles, cook them and drain.
>> Assemble the Lasagna: Spread about 1/2 cup of the cheese sauce in the bottom of the dish. Place a layer of noodles down and then evenly spread the ricotta mixture over the top and add another layer of noodles. Spoon on the veggies and another layer of the cheese sauce and then about 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Place another layer of noodles over that, top it with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese and remaining noodles. Evenly spread the remaining cup of sauce over the top and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese!
>> Cover it with non-stick foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly brown. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving!!

Gnocchi w/ Mushroom Cream Sauce

Black bean and Pineapple Chili
1 lg onion diced                                                                       
1tsp ground cumin
1 lb diced zucchini (froze is fine, just thaw and remove water)  
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1 lg red bell pepper                                                               
 2 tsps Mexican oregano (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced                                                            
black pepper
1-2 jalapenos, diced                                                              
 1/2 tsp salt
1 15oz can diced tomatoes                                                     
 1 cup crushed pineapple & juice
2 16oz cans black beans, drained & rinsed                                 
1/2 to 1 c plain yogurt
2 cups veggie broth                                                                
shredded cheddar cheese for serving
1 tbs ancho chili powder                                                             
1 cup uncooked brown rice

Cook brown rice as per package; set aside. Heat a non stick pot and add onion, cook until golden and beginning to brown.  Add bell pepper and jalapeno and cook until softened (2 minutes).  Add the garlic, stir briefly, then add tomatoes, beans, broth and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. While beans are cooking, dice squash or zucchini.  Add squash and pineapple, increase the heat slightly, and cover.  Simmer until tender.  Season as needed.  Mix in rice and yogurt.  The more yogurt, the creamer it gets.  Add shredded cheddar cheese when served.

Reheat:  heat in saucepan on med-high heat; stir frequently.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Four to GO GO GO!

I'm a little late, (ok, a month late) on getting this post up, but I have an awfully cute excuse! We had a great turn out this month, even smack in the middle of holiday season!  The menu was super yummy!  I thought I loved freezer meals before...but as a new mom having a packed freezer is priceless!!  I tried to stock pile as many as I could from last meeting and this one so I had plenty on hand for after Harper made her arrival!  Again, thanks to all the lovely ladies (and gent) who participate!

December Menu:
*Chicken Cacciatore
*Stromboli (buffalo chicken or pepperoni)
*Chicken and Stuffing Bake
*Meatball Sandwiches
*Beef Stew
*Mac and Cheese Soup
*Baked Ziti
*Roasted Tomato Soup

Meg's Chicken 

 Meg's Stromboli

Chicken Cacciatore
3 lbs chicken, cut up and skin removed
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (use poultry shears and cut the tomatoes into chunks - I do this while they're still in the can)
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons drained capers
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper chicken and sauté in a skillet until both sides are browned.  Remove and set aside.  In the same pan, add a little oil and toss in the onion, pepper, and mushrooms.  Cook for a few minutes until veggies are tender then add in minced garlic, cook until fragrant.  Add the wine and simmer until it reduces by half, then add in the tomatoes with their juice, capers, olives, and oregano.  Add the chicken pieces to the pan and coat them in the sauce. Continue to simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes until chicken is completely cooked through.  Serve over pasta, rice, or egg noodles!

 1.5 cups shredded chicken
1/4 cup buffalo sauce (Frank's Red Hot)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 packet thinly sliced pepperoni

Make dough according to directions (or use pre made bread or pizza dough).  Flatten dough out into a rectangle.  If making a buffalo chicken Stromboli: mix together ingredients and then spread evenly over dough, making sure to leave a 1 inch border.  If making pepperoni: lay pepperoni slices in one layer across dough, leaving the border.  Top with cheese.
Start at one end (long side) and roll tightly towards other side.  Pinch and seal all edges, sides and bottom.
*At this point, you may wrap tightly and freeze.*
If ready to bake, pre heat oven to 375 and line a sheet with foil.  Brush top of Stromboli with melted butter and a sprinkle of garlic powder and Italian seasonings.  Bake for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  Enjoy!

Chicken and Stuffing Bake

*  1 box stuffing mix
*  4 pieces raw chicken breast
*  10.5 ounces cream of chicken soup
*  0.33 cup milk
*  1.67 cup hot water

Mix stuffing mix with hot water; set aside. Place chicken in baking dish. Mix soup and milk and pour over chicken. Spoon prepared stuffing over top. Bake uncovered at 375F for 45 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
Freezing Directions:
After preparing, do not bake. Cover with foil, seal, label, and freeze. To serve: Thaw in fridge, then bake as directed above

Beef Stew
Beef Stew

2 1/2 pounds of Beef round cut, cubed
2 whole onions diced
1 pound carrots cuts in 1 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 pounds potatoes cut in 1 inch pieces
2 cups of red wine
14 oz can of beef broth or stock
flour (enough to dredge beef)
bay leaf
salt n pepper to taste

Salt & pepper beef cubes. Dredge in flour, enough to coat. In big cast iron or regular pot, brown beef in oil in stages by removing then adding more until all is browned. Add more oil in between if needed. Sauté onions in same pot until soft. Add in Garlic, sauté for 1 minute. Add in carrots & potato. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of red wine & deglaze the pan. Scrap up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for a few minutes. Add in the beef stock or broth, & bay leaf. Cover with lid & simmer for about an hour or if using cast iron put in over for 1-2 hours. If broth is a little thin after cooking time mix up equal parts of corn starch & water(1-2 tbsp of each) to make a slurry & add into the broth. Stir until thickened until desired. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Reheating Instructions:
 Thaw dish completely, turn into saucepan & Simmer on low until hot. Enjoy!

Mac and Cheese Soup
 10 slices of thick-cut bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup all purpose flour
one 14 oz can vegetable broth
3 cups whole milk
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 TBS garlic powder
4 cups (1lb) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups dried elbow macaroni, COOKED
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Cut the bacon in strip quarters. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove it to paper towels to drain. Add a little oil to the pan if needed, then add the onion. Sauté the onion for about min or until it changes color. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onion is slightly brown. Add the flour and mix well (it will have the consistency of like a paste and that's ok) Cook that for about 2 min. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, Stirring often, this is very important. Add the milk, chili powder, pepper and mustard. Return the soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for 3 min. Add the cheese and the bacon, continue cooking and stirring until well blended, about 4 minutes add the cooked macaroni and return to a simmer. Remove from the heat and serve, sprinkling with parsley.