Thursday, January 29, 2009

Power Cooking!

Ahem...let me present to you something that will absolutely rock your world. Introducing....Power Cooking. What in the world is Power Cooking? Oh, I'm so glad you asked. Ever heard of Dream Dinners? Well, it's sort of like that, but you don't have to pay anything to do it (except for the ingredients for the meals, of course!) Courtesy of the wonderful people at The Pampered Chef, I have 10 simple recipes to share with you. All you need is about an hour on a Sunday afternoon (or whenever!), and you will have meals for your family for the next 2 weeks. Or maybe even more, depending on the size of your family. There are two different Power Cooking meal for chicken and one for ground beef. We'll start with the chicken one. There are 5 different recipes in this meal plan, 3 of which I will show you today. You will need one pound of chicken per recipe you choose to make. There are "To Prepare and Freeze" instructions, as well as "To Serve" instructions. For freezing, you need a pack of gallon-sized ziplock bags. They even have those neat vacuum bags now in the grocery store (but you certainly don't need that do freeze these, you can just push all the air out on your own). Once you put the recipe in the bag, flatten it out, and label it, you can freeze it for up to 3 months! OK, this will be a long post, but I am going to go ahead and paste the recipes for three of our Power Cooking Chicken recipes. Those of you who have tried Power Cooking before, what do you think? If this all seems confusing to you, I do lots of Power Cooking Shows. You can invite your friends over and I will teach you all how to do this. They can even bring their own meat and actually leave the party with 3 meals to freeze for their families! So fun! Keep checking back for our other Power Cooking recipes in future posts. Here's a preview of tomorrow's post...what if you could have dinner on the table in a matter of 15 minutes? I'm going to show you how...stay tuned!

Make-Ahead Chicken
3 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
or thighs
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Cut chicken into ½-in. cubes using
Chef’s Knife.
2. Heat oil in (12-in.) Skillet over
medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or
until shimmering. Add chicken and cook
7-10 minutes or until chicken is no longer
pink, stirring occasionally. Drain chicken,
if necessary.
3. Divide chicken into three portions.

Chicken Stir-Fry

To Prepare and Freeze
In Bag 1, combine:
1 portion of Make-Ahead Chicken
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
²/³ cup prepared stir-fry sauce
In Bag 2, combine:
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut
into julienne strips
3 cups small broccoli florets
2 tbsp Asian Seasoning Mix, optional
Seal Bag 2 and place into Bag 1; seal.
Freeze for up to three months.
To Serve
• Heat 1 tsp vegetable oil in (12-in.) Skillet
1-3 minutes or until shimmering. Add
contents of Bag 2. Cook 3-5 minutes or
until broccoli is slightly tender.
• Add contents of Bag 1. Cook 3-5
minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender
and chicken is hot.
• Serve stir-fry with 6 cups hot cooked
rice. If desired, garnish with sliced green
onions and coarsely chopped peanuts.

Smoky Black Bean Chicken Wraps
To prepare and freeze

In Bag 1, combine:
1 portion of Make-Ahead Chicken
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and
1½ cups water
1-2 tbsp Smoky Barbecue Rub

In Bag 2, combine:
2 cups cooked rice
1 tbsp Smoky Barbecue Rub
Seal Bag 2 and place into Bag 1; seal. Freeze
for up to three months.

To Serve
• Place contents of Bags 1 and 2 into
(12-in.) Skillet. Heat over medium-high
heat 3-5 minutes or until heated through.
• Divide 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
evenly among six 11-in. flour tortillas;
top with chicken mixture and optional
ingredients such as lettuce, tomatoes and
barbecue sauce or Louisiana hot sauce.
• Roll up tightly, cut wraps in half on a bias.

Dijon Chicken Noodle Toss
To prepare and freeze:

In Bag 1, combine:
1 portion of Make-Ahead Chicken
2 cups frozen peas
In Bag 2, combine:
¼ lb deli ham, diced into ¼-in. pieces
1 can (10¾ oz) condensed cream of
chicken soup
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Seal Bag 2 and place into Bag 1; seal. Freeze
for up to three months.

To Serve:
• Cook 12 oz rotini pasta according to
package directions; drain.
• Meanwhile, place ½ cup water and
contents of Bag 2 in (12-in.) Skillet;
cover. Bring to a simmer over mediumhigh
heat, stirring occasionally.
• Add 8 oz sour cream to Skillet. Reduce
heat to medium; add contents of Bag
1. Cover and cook 4-6 minutes or until
chicken is hot, stirring occasionally.
• Toss cooked pasta with parsley. Spoon
chicken mixture over pasta and sprinkle
with 1 oz grated fresh Parmesan cheese if desired.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cooking (if you want to call it that)...

OK, so what comes to mind when you think of cooking dinner this evening? Does it make you want to curl up into a ball and cry a little? For some of you, cooking is a passion. It is something you love to do. Plain and simple, you get pure joy out of taking a few raw ingredients and turning them into a work of culinary art. For others, just the thought of stepping foot into the kitchen intimidates the heck out of you. I mean, think about it: once you get in there, where will you even begin? And, good gracious, who will clean up the mess when you’re finished? No thanks, not worth it.

Those of you who know me personally know that I am a Director with The Pampered Chef. To say that I love my job is a huge understatement! I have so much fun at my Cooking Shows, helping people realize that cooking can be quick, simple, and inexpensive. And honestly, what I do can not even be considered “cooking” sometimes. Seriously, dumping 3 ingredients into a baker and popping it into the microwave…how easy is that? Often times when I am looking at a recipe, I am thinking to myself, "What if I add a little of this, too?" or "I wonder if I really need that ingredient?" Hence, the title of this blog is born. My curiosity sometimes turns great recipes into amazing ones, and sometimes...not so much. :/ This blog is a way for you to get an inside look at the recipes I try out everyday. I'll show you what works and what doesn't, where you can take short-cuts and where you cannot afford to. Keep in mind that these recipes can all be prepared in under 30 minutes, use ingredients that you can actually pronounce and find easily in your grocery store, and most cost around $3/serving to prepare. You cannot beat that! With our current economy, everyone is trying to eat at home more. Did you know that your family can save on average over $2000 a year by cutting out just one restaurant meal a week? That is simply astounding to me! On this blog I will be posting new recipes as well as some of my favorites, along with pictures of finished dishes as well as cooking tips to help you create the same recipe on your own.

Get ready, because cooking (if you want to call it that) just got a whole lot simpler!