Monday, April 10, 2017

The Beginning of International Night

Over the years, our blog has gone through a few changes, and I'm here to tell you that it's changing again.  I used to use this blog as my personal recipe box and a place where I could direct family and friends to my favorite recipes.  As Pintrest became more popular, I realized that it was a much less time consuming way to store and share recipes; and so, I stopped using this blog.

But now I'm back and I'm excited to share with you the new experiment in our kitchen.

I was sitting at my computer, trying to plan my menu for the week, when I realized I was bored with every recipe I have.  And to make it worse, searching Pintrest for dinner ideas wasn't helping at all.  I started thinking that it might be fun to try different meals from around the world. To include my family in this I told my kids that they would each get a turn to choose which country the meal came from.  J (my 7yr old) piped up "China", M (my 11yr old) "France", C (my 8yr old) "Iowa".  Wait .... what?   Guess we will be teaching geography as well.

We have been trying this for a month now and we are having so much fun.  I have never considered myself a picky eater but as I'm searching for recipes I find myself looking for the ones that look "Americanized" and I am trying to branch out and choose recipes that are more traditional.  That being said, I hope that I'm finding authentic recipes but really this is just dinner so I'm not going to do tons of research on the meal.  If it says it's chinese, I'm going to assume that it is.

One hangup I'm finding, as I search for recipes, is that every country eats food from other countries.  If someone asked me to cook an American meal, I would have to throw out half my recipes because they are Mexican or Italian, etc.  As I searched for Ukrainian dishes, I kept running into Russian and Polish recipes because they are also eaten in the Ukraine.  So again, I'm trying, but hey at least we are trying new and unique meals.

For our first International Night meal, J chose Chinese.  I thought "this is going to be easy" but I wanted to make something I hadn't made before so I chose General Tso's Chicken.  I'm not sure if it was the Hoisin sauce or the recipe or if I just messed it up but it did not taste like the chicken I've ordered at chinese restaurants.  Because I'm not sure if the problem was me, I'm not going to post the recipe.  Let's just say, it wasn't our favorite and I'm sure this won't be the only International Night that isn't a huge hit.

Doesn't this look delicious!  

The following week M chose French!  I was totally excited for all the pastries that I was going to make until I remembered that I shouldn't serve my kids pastries for dinner.  I searched online for hours but wasn't willing to make escargot or ANYTHING with duck liver (I at least want a chance at getting my kids to eat it) and finally settled on Croque Madame.

Croque Madame is more or less a very cheesy grilled ham & cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top but it was oh so delicious.  Everyone in the family loved it!  I also made French Beignets for dessert.  They tasted delicious but the dough didn't rise like it should have (I blame my yeast) so they were pretty flat.  Next time I make them, as long as they puff up, I'll try filling them with custard.

Look at all that cheesy goodness!


For our next International Night, C chose Egypt!  This one had me worried.  What in the world do they eat in Egypt?  Turns out, really delicious and pretty food.

For this one I made Oven Roasted Chicken Schwarma, that I served on thick pita bread, along with hummus and Tabbouleh salad.  The Tumeric made the chicken a beautiful yellow-orange color and my house smelled amazing.  I wasn't sure how the cinnamon would taste with the other spices but it really was delicious.

I did have to alter the Tabbouleh Salad a bit.  Mint is not in season here so I had a really hard time finding it fresh so I just left it out.  I know it's not a "real" Tabbouleh salad without it but it was really good none the less.  I also couldn't find bulger wheat but the recipe said it could be substituted with Couscous.  I didn't have and couscous but I had quinoa which I've substituted for couscous so that's what I used.

For dessert I made a Basbousa Cake.  I used Cream of Wheat enriched farina in place of the semolina.  It was good but very sweet.  I think if I make it again I will only use half of the simple syrup recipe.

Okay, so now we're caught up to last night's International Night.  Being the kind wife that I am I told Trent that he should get to choose a country, too.  Of course, he decided to be difficult and chose Ukraine.

I did struggle with this one a bit because all the recipes I found were actually recipes from the surrounding countries.

I finally settled on Cabbage Rolls and Yabluchnyk (Apple Layer Cake).

I didn't want to do the cabbage rolls because we aren't big cabbage fans but I couldn't find much else and over and over I read that cabbage rolls are served at every big Ukrainian family function so I gave them a try.

They turned out really good.  The cabbage was really mild and the bacon, along with the filling, was tasty.  We did end up adding some salt and pepper but that's because of our American tastes, I'm sure.

The Apple Cake was delicious.  I could just snack on it all day.  The orange juice in the batter was a great contrast to the apples and cinnamon.

So far we are having so much fun with our weekly International Night meals.  I printed up a current list of countries for the kids to choose from and they all immediately chose their countries for the next 4 weeks.  Currently, there are 195 countries so this experiment is going to take us about 4 years to get through.  There are a few countries that I'm a bit worried about but it's going to be fun figuring it out.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

I love this recipe.   The roasted red peppers make it taste like I spent the whole day cooking but in reality, I only spent about half an hour.  

Creamy Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

  • 1lb bowtie pasta
  • 1 1/2lbs cooked chicken, sliced or cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 4T butter
  • 1c half and half, room temperature
  • 1c chicken broth
  • 1t seasoned salt
  • 12oz jar roasted red peppers, sliced (these are usually found on the condiment isle)
  • 1c mozzarella, shredded
  • Fresh parsley or basil, chopped
Cook the pasta according to the package.  While it cooks, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic til soft.  Whisk in the half & half and chicken broth.  Stir in the seasoned salt and mozzarella.  Lower the heat to keep the sauce from boiling.

Add the chicken and red pepper slices to the sauce.  Stir frequently and keep an eye on the heat so it doesn't boil.  Drain the cooked pasta and stir it together with the sauce.  Add chopped parsley or basil when serving.

Recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

I love to make casseroles.  They are quick and easy and everyone seems to like them, but I get tired using the same ingredients over and over.  Even though this is a chicken casserole, it doesn't taste like every other one.  Adding the ham and the sauce makes this a very unique and tasty meal.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

  • 2c cooked rice
  • 3c cooked chicken, cut into 1 inc pieces
  • 6 slices of swiss cheese (or enough to cover, if slicing it yourself)
  • 10 slices of deli ham, chopping
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2c milk
  • 1/2c sour cream
  • 1/2c bread crumbs (or 10 saltine crackers)
  • 1/2t paprika
  • 1/4t garlic salt
  • 1/2t parsley

Coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray

Spread the cooked rice on the bottom of the baking dish.

Layer the chicken pieces on top of the rice.

Arrange the swiss cheese over the chicken.

Spread the ham on top of the swiss.

In a separate bowl, mix the cream of chicken soup, milk and sour cream.  Spread on top of the ham.

Mix together the bread crumbs, paprkia, garlic salt and parsley.  Spread on top of soup mixture.

Bake at 350' for 30 minutes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

For Valentines Day, this year, I decided to make it fun for the kids and do a Pink & Red themed dinner.  For all the work I put in to it, the kids were only mildly impressed but everyone LOVED the Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.  

I found this recipe on the amazing website, Sweet Basil.  If you haven't already, you should stop by and check out all the other recipes; they are wonderful.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

  • 16oz package refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • 3/4c Oats
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1t vanilla
  • 21oz can Cherry Pie filling
  • 1/3c shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350'

In a large bowl, break up the refrigerated dough.  Using your hands, knead in the oats and mix until evenly incorporated.  Press 2/3 of the dough into a lightly greases 8x8 inch square pan.  

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the crust is just set.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg and set aside.  In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth with no lumps.  Beat in the sugar, then stir in the vanilla and egg.  Spread the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cookie crust.

Pour the cherry pie filling evenly over the cream cheese layer.  Evenly sprinkle the remaining cookie dough over the top, then top with the shredded coconut.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set and lightly golden.  Let cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Best Dang Beef Pot Roast

Some days this is exactly how I feel.  Just had to share.

The Best Dang Beef Pot Roast

  • Small to medium size rump roast
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 1 envelope brown gravy mix
  • 1 individual size serving apple sauce
  • 2c water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small bag sliced carrots
  • 2 medium to large size potatoes, cut up
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery
Sear the roast in a frying pan with a small amount of oil.  Sear it well on all sides.
Put the roast, then vegetables in the crock pot.  Mix envelope mixes with water and applesauce, then pour over all.

Set crock pot on low and let it cook for at least 8-10 hours.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Baked Churros

My kids have gotten it into their heads that if they eat their dinner, they always get a dessert.  Seeing how I don't make a lot of desserts, this has caused a bit of a dilemma.  I found this Churro recipe and loved how easy it was to make.  I can pop these babies in the oven and in no time I have a dessert for the family.

Baked Churros

  • 1 sheet frozen pastry puff, thawed
  • 1c sugar
  • 1T ground cinnamon
  • 1/2c melted butter

Preheat the oven to 450'
Cut the frozen pastry into 1" wide strips.
Bake on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes

Mix together the sugar and the cinnamon
When they are done baking, brush the sticks with the melted butter and roll them into the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Recipe from Lovin' From the Oven

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chile Colorado Burritos

I love Mexican food but since our favorite "hole-in-the-wall" Mexican restaurant moved and became too "Americanized" we haven't been able to find a place we like.  This recipe is every bit as good as any burrito that we've had in our old favorite restaurant and much better than the burritos we've found since.  It's easy to make but tastes like you've been slaving over the stove all day.  Even my kids love it; which is a huge plus.

  • 1 1/2 to 2lb stew meat or other beef cubed (top sirloin is great)
  • 1 large can mild red enchilada sauce (amount isn't too important but you need at least 19oz)
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 can re-fried beans
  • 5-7 burritos size flour tortillas (I recommend using the raw tortillas that you cook yourself.  They taste so much better)
  • 1c+ shredded cheddar cheese

Put the beef, bouillon, and enchilada sauce into a crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hour or until the meat is very tender.  

When the beef is done (very tender and flakes when stirred) taste and add more salt if desired.  Heat up the refried beans in the microwave and put your oven on broil.  In a casserole dish, lay out a tortilla.  Place on tortilla about 1/2c of the meat, drained with a slotted spoon, and a spoonful of beans.  You can add a little shredded cheese also if you want to.  Roll into a burrito (tucking the sides in) and lay in your casserole dish.

When you've rolled all of your burritos, pour some of the remaining enchilada sauce from the crockpot over the burritos to cover them.  Sprinkle with some cheese. 

Broil until the cheese is bubbly, about 2-4 minutes.

Source: Food Pusher