Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Holiday Break

Hello fellow homegaters! It's been a busy couple weeks with Christmas and New Year's coming up! I've been cooking up a storm but keep forgetting to take pics! I missed a couple weeks but will be back this week for the Texan's last game of the regular season! See you when we play Jacksonville!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Week 14: New England Patriots vs Houston Texans

Oh this was a game we all waited for. I know for myself, I just knew we had to win this one. They flexed us to Sunday night and we were playing the Patriots. We had to show the world that we could win against these guys....

If you watched the game, you already know that not only did we lose, we looked extremely horrible out there! I had the displeasure of watching this game Monday night after work because I had concert tickets to see The Weeknd the night before.

Because my night was going to be busy, I spent most of my day in the kitchen. It's close to Christmas time and I decided to share my base Christmas cookie platter with you all. Every year I make Christmas cookies/bars and deliver them to my friends and family. As I'm a new mom and can't really do as much as I'd like, I stuck to one cookie, a brownie, and a bar. Here goes the recipes!

This was a total cheat as I made box brownies. I never make homemade because Ghiradelli has these fab brownie mixes that just make the best brownies I've ever had. You really must try them! To make these my own, I did make the icing from scratch.

Brownie Icing: (to be made while brownies are cooling)
1 stick unsalted butter, softed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar, you might need more or less.

1. In a medium size bowl using a mixer, mix butter until lightly whipped.
2. Add 1 cup powdered sugar, and vanilla and mix.
3. Add  1/4 cup heavy cream and 1 more cup of powdered sugar and mix. This is where you want to eye ball the rest of the recipe. Mix until the consistency of the icing is thicker than whipped cream. If it's too loose, add powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add more cream.
4. Once the icing is ready and the brownies are cooled completely, spread all of icing over brownies. Sprinkle with red and green sprinkles. Place in fridge to cool and let icing harden up a bit.
5. Cut brownies and serve at room temp.

Cookie Bars
1 box graham crackers, crushed
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup red and green M&Ms

1. Spray shallow baking dish with vegetable spray.
2. Mix graham crackers with melted butter. Pour in baking dish in an even layer.
3. Pour condensed milk over graham crackers.
4. Add chocolate chips, coconut, and M&Ms.
5. Bake in a 325 degree oven until coconut flakes are toasted on the edges. Let cool and cut. Serve.

Reindeer Cookies:
1 package Peanut Butter Cookie mix made per instructions on box
2. chocolate chips
3. red M&Ms
4. small pretzels

1. On a baking sheet place about 6-8 small spoonfuls of peanut butter cookie mix with enough room to spread while cooking.
2. Shape into an oval and tuck in the sides so that cookies look like the outline of the number 8.
3. Place two pretzels on the top of the cookie for the "antlers"
4. Place chocolate chips as eyes and 1 red M&M as the "rudolph" nose.
5. Continue until baking sheet has enough cookies to bake. Bake at 350 until cookies are a golden brown.
6. Repeat until dough is finished. Serve warm or at room temp.

There you have it! My family told me they loved these sweet treats that I left. It helped them get through what was a very horrible game.

A couple tips for you....
-If your kid is allergic to peanuts, use a sugar cookie recipe or even a chocolate chip cookie recipe minus the chips. I only use peanut butter cookies because the color lends itself to the reindeer skin tone.
-With the cookie bars, you can mix and match whatever type of toppings you want. I happen to like the look of the coconut as snow and the texture of the M&Ms. Feel free to get creative!
-Have fun while making these! They are perfect for any holiday gathering you have and I promise people will ask you for them every year afterwards!

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Week 13: Houston Texans @ Buffalo Bills

While we visited Buffalo, the fam originally wanted to order Buffalo Wild Wings but my preggo sis had a craving for my Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo so that's what we made! Here's the recipe:

1 package chicken tenderloin, cubed
1 package campanelle pasta
2 heads broccoli crowns
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dry thyme
2 tablespoons dry basil
4 tablespoons dry or fresh parsley
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash garlic & herb seasoning
1 cup parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
1/4 cup vegetable oil
16 oz half and half
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut broccoli into bite size pieces and set to cook in a pot of salted boiling water. Once cooked, remove and add pasta. Cook pasta to al dente and remove.
2. Cut chicken into bite size chunks and set in a bowl. Marinade with garlic powder, 1/2 tablespoon dry thyme, 1 tablespoon dry basil, cumin, salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash.
3. In a big saucepan set on medium high heat, add vegetable oil and chicken. Cook until chicken is browned and mostly cooked through. Remove from saucepan.
4. Add onions to saucepan and let cook until translucent.
5. Add garlic and let cook for one minute.
6. Add butter and flour. Mix until everything looks like a thick paste. If too dry, add more butter or vegetable oil. Let cook for a couple minutes.
7. Add water or chicken broth and use a whisk to fully incorporate paste with liquid.
8. Once everything is fully incorporated and smooth, mixture should be somewhat thick. Add all of half and half and continue mixing.
9. Add all remaining spices and let simmer until thick.
10. Add half of parmesan cheese and let melt in sauce.
11. Add chicken, broccoli, and pasta. Stir until everything is coated in the sauce. If the sauce is on the thin side, let it cook another 5 minutes or so.
12. Top with remaining parmesan cheese and serve.

This is one of my go to dishes. While it looks intimidating and long, it's soooo simple to make and only takes about a half hour. A couple things you can do to tweak this is change up the cheese if you want. Adding mozzarella would be good or even a good blue cheese. You can also remove the meat portion and make this completely vegetarian. You can also sub the broccoli for maybe bell peppers or another veggie of choice. With this recipe, it's really easy to make it versatile.

We lost to the Bills which sucked but my family all had smiles on their faces from the food so I guess the day was a success! See you next week!

Week 12: New Orleans Saints vs Houston Texans

We played the Saints in Week 12 and by this point, we have abandoned our eat the food local to each city goal. My sister is preggers so we have to help her out with cravings! This week I wanted to experiment with food and was craving East Indian cuisine but wanted it in a different style of cooking. I also wanted to go meat free this week so I decided to make a biryani which if you don't know is a rice casserole. It usually contains a meat like chicken or lamb, but I decided to remove that and make the biryani in a risotto style.

Biryani Risotto
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 roma tomatoes, cubed
1 large onion, half sliced and half chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
3 cups water, warming on the stove
1 box Shan biryani mix
1 tablespoon ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cayenne (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a big saucepan or pot on medium high heat, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil and the sliced onions. Let the onions saute until they become a light brown color (you may have to adjust the heat to prevent burning). Add sugar and continue to cook until onions turn a dark brown. Be sure NOT to leave the stove at this point. Once onions are a dark brown, remove from pot and place on a plate of napkins.
2. Bring saucepan back to medium high heat. Add rest of veggie oil and onion. Sprinkle teaspoon salt and pepper and saute until translucent.
3. Add garlic, tomatoes, and rice. Let cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add ginger, and cayenne, and 1 packet of the Shan biryani mix. Make sure all rice is coated with spices.
5. Add 2 ladels of warmed water to rice mixture. Bring stove to medium low and let rice simmer, stirring occasionally.
6. When water has cooked out, add another 1-2 ladels of more water until rice is completely cooked and looks creamy.
7. Add cilantro and the sweetened dark onions. Stir into biryani risotto and serve.

Let me talk about Shan box mixes. If you don't cook East Indian food, you'll want to visit HEB (international or Indian aisle) or a local Asian/Indian/Pakistani grocery mart. You'll find that they have several spice mixes for dishes like Korma, Biryani, Butter Chicken, etc. I find these box mixes helpful because I don't have to overcrowd my spice pantry with bottles of spices I'll never ever fully use. I make East Indian food maybe once or twice a  year so this is a time and space saver for me! If you like to collect spices, just google the spices needed for biryani and go to town!

This risotto style biryani was extremely tasty! Because it was a first try, I didn't want to get too experimental with it. When I next make it, I'll be sure to add some good veggies and maybe even some grilled chicken on the side. If you like to explore other cultures, I highly recommend you trying this dish. It's delish!

We did beat the Saints and I have to add I enjoyed the win all the more with such a great dish!

Week 11: NY Jets vs Houston Texans

This game happened to be the same weekend as my daughter's first birthday so we had leftovers which was FAJITAS!!! I'm sorry but you just can't go wrong with fajitas for any occasion. Ugh, they are so good. Here are the reicpes:

Homemade Chips & Guacamole

50 corn tortillas cut into fourths
5 avocados
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 lime
vegetable spray
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Arrange the cut corn tortillas on baking sheets, spray with vegetable spray and pop in an oven set to 325. Let the tortillas cook until they are golden brown and crispy. When they come out of the oven, place in a big bowl and lightly salt. Continue until all tortillas are cooked.
2. Add avocados, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro in a bowl and mix together making sure to mash the avocado up to preferred consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Juice 1/2 lime and mix.

Homemade Pico de Gallo
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 lime
salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix everything in a bowl. Add lime juice, salt and pepper for taste. SERVE

Note---You may have noticed there is no mention of jalapenos in either of the above recipes. We have some non-spicy foodies in our household so I omitted spice in everything. I did, however, cut up serranos (wayyyy spicier than jalapenos) and served those on the side for us spiceheads.

Fajitas (Chicken and Beef)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
4 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
1 lb beef, sliced into strips
shredded cheese
serranos, sliced
cilantro, chopped
2 limes
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Southwest Seasoning
2 tablespoons onion powder
vegetable oil for sauteeing veggies and meat
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place chicken and beef in separate bowls. Season with 1 tablespoon each of cumin, onion powder, and Mrs. Dash as well as 1 lime each and garlic. Also add salt and pepper for taste.
2. On a stovetop grillpan on medium high heat, saute onion and bell peppers in about 1 tablespoon of veggie oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and saute until soft. Remove from heat and place on serving dish.
3. Add 1 more tablespoon of veggie oil to pan and saute chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and place on serving dish.
4. If needed, add another tablespoon of veggie oil and saute beef until browned. Depending on your preference of rareness, cook longer or immediately take out after browned. My family likes their beef medium well so that's what I cooked it to. Remove beef and place on serving dish.
5. When serving this up, add cheese, serranos, and cilantro as well as some lime wedges on the serving platter as well for others to add on. If you have other add ons you like, make sure to include those on your platter.

While this seems like a lot of steps and lots of dishes, you can see that it's really not. It was a very easy going meal to make and everyone enjoyed their food. You'll see that I made sure to separate everything. We have some vegetarians in our household so everything was cooked and plated so that everyone would be able to eat. You can prepare your platter however you want it though. Of course, because we did a birthday and football meal in one, I placed the homemade chips in those cute little 1 snack containers. And while it isn't pictured, I did have flour tortillas for the fajitas (store bought). For those, I just wrapped the bundle in foil and let it heat through in the oven while I fried up everything. This is a nice trick when serving a crowd!

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as my family enjoyed it. We did beat the Jets AND my daughter's party went off without a hitch so I'd say it was a great weekend! Until next week!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Week 10: Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals

The week we played Cincinnati, I planned on making Cincinnati Chili. Unfortunately, I fell sick and didn't make it to the store. I rummaged through my fridge and freezer and found that I had everything to make a tortilla soup (what I call a tortilla soup) so that's what was on the menu! Here's the recipe:

Last Minute Tortilla Soup
2 chicken breasts cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 large russet potato peeled and cubed
2-3 cups water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons dry parsley
1 tablespoon season salt
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash seasoning (your choice and optional)
salt and black pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish

1. In a big saucepot, brown chicken. Remove.
2. Add onion and garlic and cook until onions are translucent. Add potato and let cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add spices & tomato paste and let cook for about 1 minute.
4. Add tomato sauce, chicken, corn, and black beans. Cover with water. Let cook for about 20 minutes.
5. Check to see if potatoes are soft. Add cilantro. Dish is done at this point. You can top with cheese or chips or avocados or whatever you want and serve.

Now this was a very quick and easy recipe as you can tell. You can tweak it however you like. Because I was in the mood for chili, I added a lot of flavors that I would normally put in chili so it did have those same flavor elements which I loved! I made a huge pot of this and froze it so that I'd always have soup if I needed it. I didn't have tortilla chips so I subbed with fritos...don't judge me. Another thing you could do with this soup is change up the meats. You could brown up sausage or even beef and use that if you wanted. It's delicious and would adapt to it all very well! We did beat Cincinnati and it was such a great victory as they were undefeated until they met us!