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Healthy Cheesesteaks

I am notoriously bad about meal planning.  Oh, I make the lists.  At the time I think they’re amazing and I can’t wait to eat everything on there, but after cooking the first thing on there I get bored.  I suddenly want nothing I had planned.  Observe this week.  On the menu I had Honey Mustard Chicken and Sweet Potatoes, Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo, and Pressed Ham, Pear, and Gruyere Sandwiches with Tomato Orange Soup.  When it came time to make any one of those three I hemmed and hawed.  I didn’t want to make the sandwiches because I was waiting for Rosemary Cheddar Potato Bread (an upcoming post) and I hadn’t made it yet.  The other two just sounded meh to me.  By lunchtime on Friday I was refusing to make any of them, and was searching for something that would go well with my sudden craving for frozen steak fries.*

(*If you’re going to read this blog I think I’d better mention that I get random cravings for food regularly.  I will change entire plans to support these cravings, usually at the last minute.)

Introduce our friend, the cheesesteak.  I cannot remember the last time I ordered on in a restaurant even though I love them so.  This has more to do with my need to control ingredients and wish for healthy food than anything.  My husband, on the other hand, orders them everywhere.  Without vegetables.  Vegetables, you see, do not die in pain and are therefore unacceptable food items.  I joke, but the fact of the matter remains he likes very few veggies, none of which are found on a cheesesteak sandwich.

I decided that a cheesesteak was exactly what I needed, full of peppers, onions, and mushrooms.  The husband could eat around them if he really wanted to.  Much to my surprise he only picked out the mushrooms and tried valiantly to eat the peppers an onions.  I do believe I’m rubbing off on him.  Today peppers, tomorrow tofu!

The recipe I used was from an old Cooking Light.  I’ve had it in my YummySoup (a TERRIFIC recipe collector for macs.  I highly recommend it.) for ages, but it took me this long to get around to making it.  I regret waiting so long and I have a feeling I may actually make this one again.

Steak and Cheese Sandwiches with Mushrooms
Adapted from March 2008’s Cooking Light (recipe can also be found online here.)

Yield: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 large green peppers, sliced thinly
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 pound top round steak, trimmed and cut into thin strips
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces of sliced reduced-fat provolone cheese, cut in half  (about a slice and a half)
4 (2 1/2-ounce) hoagie rolls

Directions
1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add mushrooms to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Sprinkle beef with salt and black pepper. Add beef to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in Worcestershire sauce; cook 1 minute.

2. Place 1 cheese slice half on bottom half of each roll, and top each serving with one-fourth of beef mixture. Top with remaining cheese slice halves and tops of rolls.

Serve with steak fries.

 

Chicken and Rosemary Dumplings

The husband and I love traveling. It’s exhausting, but so fulfilling that it’s worth it. This is especially true whenever we get together with distant family. We spent the week we were staying with my mother relaxing—watching movies, cooking, hanging out. It was terrific and I already miss going to bed and waking up whenever I feel like it.

The only bad thing about traveling for us is my husband’s allergies. When we’re home Claritin and allergy shots are enough to keep him healthy, but when we’re on the road these remedies can’t combat the changes in allergens and he inevitably starts to feel crummy. After a few days in cold and rainy Kentucky my husband could barely breathe, and was only able to do so with the power of mentholated cough drops. By the time we got home he was miserable.

I’d planned on making a honey mustard chicken and sweet potatoes dish our first full day back, but he spent most of Sunday night awake on the couch because he couldn’t breathe. It was time to bring out the big guns.

This chicken and dumplings comes from a copy of Good Housekeeping’s Cookbook that we acquired at Half Price Book Store (a Texas staple), and is nothing like a good southern chicken and dumplings. They aren’t even distant cousins, but that not to say it isn’t tasty. It’s closer to the combination of a chicken stew with puffy pockets of rosemary dough throughout. It’s just as easy to throw together as making a simple chicken soup and a whole lot heartier.

The husband is feeling much better now, but ever since I made this soup for him I’ve seen real southern chicken ‘n dumplings recipes all over the internet. I wonder if he’d mind a different version next week.

Chicken and Rosemary Dumplings
From The Good Housekeeping Cookbook

Yield: 6 VERY large servings.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
6 large Bone-In Chicken Breast Halves (3 ¼ Lbs), Skin Removed
4 large Carrots, Peeled And Cut Into 1-Inch Pieces
2 large Stalks Celery, Cut Into ¼ Inch Thick Pieces
1 medium Onion, Finely Chopped
1 cup Plus 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 ½ tsp Chopped Fresh Rosemary Or ½ Tsp Dried Rosemary, Crumbled
1 tsp Salt
1 large Egg
1 ½ cups Milk
2 cups Water
14 ½ fluid oz. Chicken Broth
¼ tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 packages (10 Oz) Frozen Peas

Directions:

1. In 8-quart Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add 3 chicken breast halves; cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. With slotted spoon, transfer chicken pieces to bowl as they are browned. Repeat with remaining chicken.

2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in Dutch oven. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, prepare dumplings: In small bowl, combine 1 cup flour, baking powder, rosemary, and ½ teaspoon salt. In cup, with fork, beat egg with ½ cup milk. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture until just blended.

4. Return chicken to Dutch oven; add water, broth, pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Heat to boiling over high heat. Drop dumpling mixture by rounded tablespoons on top of chicken and vegetables to make 12 dumplings. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes.

5. With slotted spoon, transfer dumplings, chicken, and vegetables to serving bowl; keep warm. Reserve broth in Dutch oven.

6. In cup, blend remaining 2 tablespoons flour with remaining 1 cup milk until blended smooth; stir into broth mixture. Heat to boiling over high heat; boil 1 minute to thicken slightly. Add peas to heat through. Poor sauce over chicken and dumplings. Makes 6 main-dish servings.

Grandmama’s Dinner Rolls

I hadn’t been home since my maternal grandmother died.  The thing is, Kentucky never felt like home.  It was a waystop for both my brother and me, but our mother and maternal family is all still there except for a few stragglers.  When my grandmother died I didn’t want to go back.  It was a childish response, I know, but there had never been a time there where she hadn’t come through the door like a five foot tall tornado.  I was afraid to see the house she’d lived in and feel the emptiness where she used to be.  We were close.  I loved her.  It’s been two years and I still tear up thinking about her.

My grandfather, however, is still there.  He’s old.  After these last two years hiding from memory ghosts I can’t help but feel stupid for not going back while he’s still alive, especially since he’s been asking me to come up.  It was time to get over myself.  I packed up my husband and my corgi and we drove to Kentucky for Thanksgiving.

I can’t say that it was easy being up there.  I kept waiting for her to run through the door, and her car still smelled like her.  The house was practically unchanged except for a new collection of my grandmother’s photos by my grandfather’s recliner.

It felt right to make her family famous rolls for Thanksgiving dinner.  Despite burning the bottoms (because my grandmother’s old stove is a strange contraption I have yet to master) they were just like I remembered.  It was a lovely meal with my family, and I already miss them.

My grandmother’s yeast rolls are pillowy, fluffy goodness with either all-purpose flour or whole wheat.  I made them with all-purpose because that is what I remember as a child, but she modified the recipe for her anti-cancer diet.  I have listed both.

Grandmama’s Dinner Rolls

Yield: varies depending on size of rolls

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup milk
2 pkgs active dry yeast (I used rapid yeast)
1/2 cup  shortening or 1 stick of butter (I went with butter.  Shortening creeps me out.)
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp sugar or 5 scoops of Stevia (I did sugar)
2 1/2 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
5 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt (optional, but I used it)

Heat milk to lukewarm and add butter.
Mix all dry ingredients.
Slowly add milk mixture to dry ingredients until mixed well.
Add vinegar and mix until combined.
Cover and let rise for one hour in a warm place or until doubled in size.  Do NOT punch down once risen.
Pinch off in small pieces and form into balls.  Place on a greased baking sheet.
Cover and let rise again for another hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes in the middle of the oven.
Try not to eat all of them by yourself.

Introductions

The week before Thanksgiving Chrissy (a lovely writer chick I met via twitter) mentioned that there was a winter bread baking challenge going on across the blogosphere.  It was a simple challenge.  For the nine weeks of winter you bake new bread recipe once a week and eat it within that time.  Simple.  I could do that.  Only problem was, I didn’t have a blog.

This was an issue.

I’ve always wanted a cooking blog and have even started one a couple of times, but wandered off after a couple of weeks.  There just didn’t seem a reason to continue.  My photographs were terrible. Getting pictures off the camera was difficult and time consuming.  I needed something easy.  I then ended up with a beautiful iphone 4S, which takes terrific pictures.  It was time to give this blog thing a go again.

I’m not planning for this to be a step by step cooking blog.  That doesn’t interest me.  It’s going to be more like a diary through food plus the recipe.  I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s post, which also happens to be my first bread post.

See you tomorrow!

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