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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Quick and Easy: Hamburger Stroganoff

What to have for dinner during the week can sometimes be challenging. There's soccer practice for the wee ones and you have a pile of laundry to do before the start of the following day so you know your time after working all day will have you running in circles. That doesn't mean that preparing dinner need be stressful.

This dish is what you would call "semi-homemade" and it comes together complete in about 45 minutes. I've never made Hamburger Stroganoff before and this was actually one tasty meal. In fact both my husband and me said the next day that we preferred this over one made with sirloin.

In fact with today's grocery store prices this may not be a super economical meal as it was a few years ago, it still is fairly economical in today's economy. You can make this dish complete with a vegetable and serve over the egg noodles for $12.77, feeding four people for $3.19 each. I picked up a couple of small heads of broccoli just for the two of us, but use any vegetable that you like. Sweet baby green peas are very affordable as are fresh carrots.
  • 1 1/4 lbs. ground chuck
  • 1 - 10 oz. box mushrooms (I used crimini.) - sliced
  • 1 - 10.5 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 can milk (Use the soup can and clean out all the soup from around the sides and bottom.)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • granulated garlic or garlic powder to taste (use just a touch)
  1. Get a deep skillet hot over medium high heat. Add in the butter or the oil (your choice) and let it warm up. Add in the onions and some salt and black pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until they become a little soft.
  2. Toss in the sliced mushrooms and cook for just a couple of minutes and stir around. Remove to a waiting bowl.
  3. Jack the heat up to high and add in the ground beef. Season the beef with salt and pepper and just a little bit of garlic powder. Break it apart but leave some larger chunks. Sear quickly to brown, turn the heat down to medium low.
  4. Add in the onions and mushrooms, the can of  mushroom soup and the milk. Cover and simmer over really low heat for just about 8-10 minutes and the stroganoff is ready.
Tips to have dinner in a flash:

  • While you have the stroganoff in the works get a pot of hot tap water on the stove to make the egg noodles according to the manufacturer's directions. Lid the pot so it comes up to a boil faster. Be sure to salt the water before adding in the egg noodles when it comes up to a boil.
  • And get your vegetable cooking. If using frozen baby peas and you don't have fussy kids (nothing touching) just add them right to the stroganoff mixture in the last few minutes of cooking.
  • If you are doing something like carrots - have them peeled and cut and in a pot of water ahead of starting the stroganoff and light the fire under the pot before you start the stroganoff and I think the timing will be perfect.

Like I said this took me no more than 45 minutes to put together and cook and dinner was ready.

Not My Moms Stewed Chicken

When I was taking a look back at my blog archives to see what recipes I would want to make again because the original photographs were so horrendous I came upon a childhood recipe I blogged about: Stewed Chicken. It's a dish we had quite often during my youth and one that mom made mostly on those cold fall and winter days. The kind of meal that was, as they used to say "stick to your ribs". Something to warm the body, fill the belly and give you a sense of feeling all warm and comfortable after eating it.

This was a meal that generally had some Bisquick dumplings to go along with it. As a kid I loved it (stewed chicken) and even loved the not so light dumplings that accompanied the meal. When I was in my first year or so of marriage I brought forth this dish from childhood to my family. My then new husband made no bones in telling me how much he disliked the dumplings and that he never liked them when his mother made them. That was back in the early 1990's. I waited until 2013 to make the dish again, sans dumplings and in place of them served it over egg noodles. He loved the dish.

Yesterday I thought I would re-make the recipe and re-photograph the dish and just put up the new photo with the original post. That won't work because I changed the recipe slightly and I felt like I would be committing food fraud.

This version is somewhat lighter and to me brighter. I absolutely nixed attempting even a "from scratch" dumpling recipe and made some cheddar biscuits instead. For my husband his was served over his favorite: buttered egg noodles and I sopped up the lovely sauce with a cheddar biscuit.

One last note, I used fresh herbs from our garden that are still holding their own outside. I think the freshness of the herbs is what made this dish so very special so I do recommend them. However if dried is all you have and you don't want to spend money on fresh then adjust per the list of ingredients. I've read in many places where the ratio is this: for every 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, use one teaspoon of dried. You might want to save that little fact some where in your recipe file.
  • 4-6 chicken thighs with skin on
  • 3/4 large Sweet Onion – medium dice
  • 1/2 lb. Carrots – bite size chunks
  • 3 stalks Celery – medium dice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • shortening – such as Crisco®
  • 1 tsp. fresh sage - minced (or 1/4 tsp. dried approximately)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary - minced (or 1/8 tsp. dried approximately)
  • 1 tsp. fresh parsley - minced (or 1/4 tsp. dried approximately)
  • granulated garlic to taste
  • onion powder to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. Gravy Master®
  1.  After washing your chicken under cold water, dry it thoroughly. Use salt, black pepper, onion powder and granulated garlic to season both sides of the chicken.
  2. Have all your vegetables prepped and have your herbs prepped as well.
  3. Heat up a deep skillet over medium high heat. Add in enough shortening to melt and coat the bottom of the pan - about a tablespoon.
  4. Place the season chicken thighs skin side down in the skillet. Sear on medium high, adjusting the heat as necessary for about 3 minutes on the skin side to get a golden brown skin color then another minute on the second side. Move the chicken to a waiting plate and brown in batches as necessary.
  5. When the chicken is finished, turn the heat down to medium low and add in the onions, celery and carrots. Season with a touch of salt and black pepper to taste. Give a good stir and cook for a few minutes until the onion and celery soften slightly.
  6. Add the gravy master in with the vegetables and stir around. The gravy master lends color and a certain flavor the the ending sauce.
  7. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Add in the chicken broth. The broth does not need to cover the chicken, you need just enough to go about 3/4 the way up the skillet.
  8. Turn your heat down to low. Cover and simmer for about 35-40 minutes and the chicken will be perfect.

I worked up the cost - for us it came to approximately $10.70 to make the dish.  I wish my photographs showed the lovely sauce but there is some at the bottom of the dish. The sauce is really delicious and when you serve your family don't be shy with it.

I've been taking photos with my new i Pad mini and think I need to figure a few things out, but hopefully these are clear enough for you to see the beauty of the dish.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Easy Cheddar Biscuits

When I was growing up there was a staple item in my mother's pantry - Bisquick. It was the everything you need in a box to make pancakes, waffles, dumplings or biscuits and she used it quite often. You see mom was as I see it now how I am; not much of a baker with lots of baking skills but a really good home cook. So when I was doing a version of her stewed chicken I decided that instead of dumplings I would make some cheddar biscuits after discovering that I too had a box of Bisquick in the cupboard.

The cheddar runs through the biscuit and some of the cheddar bakes on the surface of the biscuit as well to give it a nice bite of flavor. Plain, buttered or used to sop up delicious sauces or gravies these easy biscuits will be welcomed by the family at so many meals. And for eight filling biscuits it cost you approximately $3.95. Get your oven preheated to 425° and in the time it takes to preheat you can whip these together in minutes.
  • 2 cups Bisquick baking mix
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter - melted
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
  1. In a bowl combine the Bisquick, milk and melted butter and mix together until combined.
  2. Fold in the cheddar cheese.
  3. Drop on a parchment lined baking sheet by heaping spoonfuls. You should get eight total. Spread them apart by 1 1/4 inches so they don't spread and bake together.
  4. Bake in a preheated 425° oven for 16-18 minutes until golden brown.