Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A peek in the kitchen - what's for dinner?

I'm honored that a friend of mine has asked me some questions about my cooking tactics. I feel like I'm usually the one gleaning info from others and it's a honor for me to be a help to others. I've said before that cooking exclusively (rather than eating out or using packaged mixes) is a discipline that comes over time with perserverance and practice. Our family eats out maybe twice a month, sometimes less, which leaves me to do the cooking. I enjoy cooking immensely and it's a pleasure for me to fill my family and guest's bellies with the best food (economically speaking) possible.

So, I will dedicate a few posts to Kara and to others that may want a peak into my kitchen as I give away some of the tricks of my trade, which aren't much so please don't hold your breath in anticipation. :-)

First of all, I make a menu for the week every Sat or Sun, depending on if I go to the grocery store on Saturday or Monday (my usual grocery days). I usually cook 4-5 nights of the given week, the other 2-3 are leftovers or quick throw together meals. Here is my menu for the week:

Sun - Homemade pizza
Mon - Roast (Beef, Potato, Carrots, Onion) (it was very yummy, by the way)
Tues - Swiss Skillet Chicken, Veggie, Rice
Wed - Leftover Roast, Salad (church at 6:30)
Thurs - Chicken Soup, Salad, Grilled cheese
Fri - Leftovers (we have a commitment at 6pm)
Sat - Homemade Pizza (SEC Championship game)
Sun - Church Dinner

Before I make my menu, I look to see what is in the house so I purchase minimal things at the store. I also look at my calendar to see when I will be home to cook. I use a lot of factors in determining what I make when, which I'll probably save for another post. But, I had a roast and chicken in my freezer, rice in my cupboard, leftover swiss cheese and white wine from turkey day, lots of carrots and celery (for chicken stock for soup), and I always have pizza crust on hand (I make 3 dough balls at a time, large enough to make a 12-inch pizza). So, I just bought fill-ins from the grocery store to complete my evening meals.

I usually get my recipes from Allrecipes.com. I search for recipes based on ingredients I have in my house, sort the results by ratings, and usually choose recipes that have been rated high. I also read some of the comments, which include some "tweeks" to the original recipe. I usually keep looking through recipes until I eventually find one that I can use depending on all the ingredients the recipe calls for (I oftentimes make substitutions).

I'll be making this recipe for Skillet Chicken Supreme tonight, though I'll be calling it Swiss Chicken Skillet Supreme since I will be using swiss cheese rather than mozzerrella. Here is the recipe I'll use (this is the recipe on the website with the modifications I'll make):

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup ice water
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup 3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 ounces shredded mozzarella swiss cheese

1. In a shallow dish or bowl, combine bread crumbs and 3 tablespoons flour. Dip chicken into ice water, then dredge through crumb mixture. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and saute until both sides are lightly browned and chicken is cooked through (juices run clear). Remove chicken from skillet and set aside, keeping warm. (note - cooking time on chicken is usually about 5 minutes per side. I will also pound my chicken)
2. To same skillet add mushrooms and saute. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon flour and stir quickly to mix together. Add broth and wine and let simmer, stirring, until thickened (about 2 minutes).
3.Return reserved chicken to skillet. Top with cheese. Cover and cook until cheese is melted.

I will serve this with Brown Basatmi Rice and mixed veggies. We'll probably also have some Applesauce, too (which I serve if we don't have a salad). On a side note, which I will also emphasize at another time, I ALWAYS reduce or eliminate the amount of oil, butter, and/or sugar a recipe calls for (except when baking). It's a good way to cut out fat and calories.


Michelle said...

Oh, Melanie! I can't wait to read more! Before we moved to China I really didn't have a clue about cooking from scratch. I've learned a ton and continue to learn new things each week. I would love more recipes, so keep posting those "from scratch" recipes! My favorite site is recipezaar.com. I haven't used allrecipes much, but will have to try next time I'm looking for something new.

Melanie said...

The chicken was very delicious, by the way. I highly recommend my version of this recipe!

Courtney said...

It's funny, Mel. I still remember you teaching me about making dinnertime a "game". Try to clean up as you cook - and do it in a certain amount of time. Maybe you're the one that kick-started my OCD! Because, now, it drives me crazy to cook a meal and not have the prep cleaned up before we eat it. You should see me bake. Every ingredient goes back where it should before the next ingredient is touched.

See why I don't bake and/or cook much?! I just don't have the time for my OCD.

Your family is very lucky to have such a sweet mommy who does so many wonderful things.