It All Started From A Little Seed

JULIET TOMATO 3-29-13

With the unusual crazy weather we have been having, it is hard to think about gardening.  But, with all gardeners, the thought of gardening is always on your mind. When we get to the end of a gardening season, it is like a huge let down, that we have to say goodbye to our gardens, kinda like saying goodbye to an old friend.  We have grown so close over the months, we have babied you from a little seed, watered you, gave you light, watched you grow, and like all parents do at one time – – we kick you out.  Yep, we kick you outdoors and into the nice garden soil we have prepared for you.  Ah, your new home, rich soil with the right amounts of nutrients to grow big and strong.

JULIET TOMATO SEEDS

But it all starts with one little seed.  Some of our seeds we carefully saved from our harvest from last year, but others, we ordered and impatiently waited for them to arrive in the mail.  Not sure why we were so impatient for their arrival, because when we ordered them, it was not even close to the time to start those little suckers indoors.  Or was it something else?  Was it our impatience to start gardening again? Just seeing and holding a seed pack in your hands made you drool.  You start dreaming.  You start dreaming of the day when you pick your first tomato.  Tomato & cucumber salads.  I gorge on these in the summer and can’t get enough of them.  Oh wait, then there’s those awesome tomato sandwiches, and by far the best – salsa & chips!  Man, I can’t wait for the day when I can walk outside and pick a handful of tomatoes and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

RED PEPPERS 3-29-13

We started lots of red pepper plants this year, as last year we did not have enough. We use red peppers in almost all of our meals, so we planned accordingly this year to be ready for a great harvest.  Right now, I think we have about 18 red pepper plants getting bigger every day, getting ready for the day when they head outside and into the garden soil.  And if you missed our post last year on our World’s Famous Rolled Chicken Recipe, you’ve got to check it out and make some for yourself!

I can taste those stuffed cabbage rolls now!

I can taste those stuffed cabbage rolls now!

Our little babies are growing up and soon will be leaving the nest.  They will have to be strong to survive the elements, be able to withstand torrential downpours, stand tall in heat waves, and survive the small critter attacks.  It is what happens in the day in the life of a gardener.  We learn, we make mistakes, we fix them for next year, and we harvest what we sow.

GARDEN SEEDLINGS 3-29-13

What’s For Dinner? Chicken Croquettes

CHICKEN CROQUETTES3

Making croquettes are a great way to use any leftover poultry or meat, but in my recipe I used chicken breasts.  I am always creating new things in the kitchen and these Chicken Croquettes are a huge hit in our house!

So let me get you started on how to create this fabulous meal…

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 oz. butter
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (or more)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • oil for deep frying

INSTRUCTIONS:

Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in 1/3 cup flour and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds.  Whisk in milk and cook, stirring, over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until mixture thickens.  Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta cheese, chicken, cheddar cheese, and parsley.  Mix well to combine and refrigerate until completely cold.

Place bread crumbs and remaining flour in separate bowls and set aside.  Shape your chicken mixture into croquettes shapes, roll each croquette in flour, then dip in egg and roll in bread crumbs.  Place on a plate and chill for about 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a large saucepan until hot and cook croquettes for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip croquettes over to cook the other side too.

CHICKEN CROQUETTES1

CHICKEN CROQUETTES2

SIDE NOTE:  Each time I made these, it made quite a few – approximately 9-11 but it depends on the size of the croquettes you are shaping.  Just make sure you cook your croquettes long enough so they are not doughy and cooked thoroughly.

And, if this meal is not already yummy enough, you can try making as a side dish to go with your croquettes my Sliced Baked Potatoes!  Just wash off a few potatoes and slice your potatoes into thin slices, but don’t slice all the way through the potato!  Place potatoes in a small baking dish.  Pull open the slices on the potato a little so they cook evenly and brush with butter, oregano, and garlic powder.  Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for about 20 minutes.  Poke the potatoes after 20 minutes to check if they are done, if not, let them bake a few minutes longer.  You can also brush the potatoes again with melted butter, and when your potatoes are done to the touch, top them off with some cheddar cheese.

SLICED BAKED POTATO

And, just when things could not get any better… you can also make my incredible Chicken Dipping Sauce for your croquettes!

1/2 cup Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Yellow Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Vinegar
2 tablespoons Honey
Pepper to taste

There you have it, a brand new dish for dinner, so when someone asks you “What’s For Dinner?” you’ll be ready to serve up a fabulous meal to your family! Enjoy!

Kickin Kabobs

Summer is in full swing and so is the grill!  Grilling and Summer go hand in hand, and we always look for new things to throw on the grill, like corn, and I have also heard that grilling pizza directly on the grill is absolutely delicious, but we have not tried that yet.  (try Googling grilled pizza to see what you find)  But one of the best things to grill other than hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks, are kabobs! 

 

 

Mommy came up with a great marinade combination that she uses on beef tips.  Once she thaws out the beef tips, she cuts them up in the perfect proportioned size and places them in a shallow bowl and covers them up with Kikkoman Soy Sauce and Kraft Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing & Marinade, then sprinkles on McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning and Oregano.  Then she covers the bowl with cling wrap and leaves it in the fridge all day.  (the longer you let the beef tips soak in the marinade, the better) 

Once it’s grillin time, take the beef tips out of the marinade and now you are ready to start assembling your skewers.  We have a nice set of metal skewers, and we spray a light coating of Pam Spray on them so nothing sticks.  Then we start the production line:  a piece of beef, a piece of onion, then a red pepper.  (you can add your own variety of veggies, of course) and so on until you have assembled all of the skewers.  You will have some of the marinade left over once you remove all the beef tips, and you can use this to drizzle over the kabobs while they are cooking on the grill. 

Grill the kabobs about 15-20 minutes, but don’t over cook them!  Now, all you need to do is serve them over a bed of rice for one great kickin kabob!   Dinner just got better with this fabulous marinade!  The beef tips are so flavorable and a mouth watering delight!

Here’s what we used to make our Kickin Kabobs:

  • One package of beef tips
  • One onion cut into medium sized pieces
  • One red pepper cut into medium sized pieces
  • Kraft Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing & Marinade
  • Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Oregano

What’s for Dinner? Rolled Chicken w/Red Peppers & Onion

This is absolutely Daddy’s new-found favorite dinner these days.  Mommy created this scrumptious recipe one night, and now it is on our favorite dinner menu list.  We wanted to share it with you!  If you would like the PDF version of this recipe, just let us know!  Enjoy!

STEP ONE:  THE INGREDIENTS
McCormicks Oregano Leaves
McCormicks Montreal Chicken Seasoning
Shake ‘N Bake Crispy Buffalo Chicken Breading
Chicken Breasts
Red Pepper
Onion
Sharp Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Toothpicks

STEP TWO:  POUND CHICKEN
Place each chicken breast separately in a large Ziploc bog.  Pound chicken breasts evenly until almost paper thin.  Remove from bag & pound the remaining chicken.

STEP THREE:  SEASON CHICKEN
Season each pounded chicken breast with the McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Seasoning and Oregano evenly.

 

STEP FOUR:  ADD RED PEPPER & ONION
Cut one Red Pepper and Small Onion in thin slices.  Line the slices on the chicken breast.

STEP FIVE:  ADD CHEESE
Sprinkle the Sharp Cheddar Cheese on top, cover chicken heavily.  (The cheese will help keep together the Red Pepper and Onion while baking)

 

STEP SIX:  ROLL UP & BREAD
Now, carefully start at one end of the chicken breast, and roll up the chicken while holding in the toppings.  When you get to the end of the chicken breast, place toothpicks into the chicken to hold it together while baking.

Sprinkle the Shake ‘N Bake breading all over the outside of your rolled up chicken breast.  Next, transfer chicken to baking pan.

STEP SEVEN:  BAKE
No need to spray your glass baking dish, as the chicken will produce enough moisture so it does not stick.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.  You can check your chicken by sticking a knife in the side.

STEP EIGHT:  ENJOY!
You are now ready to enjoy the succulent flavor in this chicken recipe, seasoned to perfection!  We have chosen to serve ours with Potato Au Gratin.  As you can see from the last photo, with each slice of chicken, you will taste the cheese, red pepper and onion in every bite!

Let us know how you like it after you make this for your next dinner!

Nikita