Snack Time with StacyMac

One of the problems that working at home can present is food. Either you eat too much, or you don’t eat at all. Add to this, usually if you aren’t eating, you aren’t drinking enough water either!

I needed to fix this (I tend to not eat if I get in the middle of a project).  I try to set up snacks on Sunday for the week ahead. With the exception of slicing apples (because I don’t want them to turn brown).

I thought I would take a moment and share a few of the snacks I have during the week. The one thing I did forget to include in any of these…carrots. I always have a bag of baby carrots around because they are great to munch on.

Almonds, Cranberries & Pirate’s Booty: I love almonds, and let’s be real, they are a great source of protein. I used to think the only way I liked them was if they were the smokehouse almonds. I’m pretty certain that is because people kept saying raw almonds were the best. Well, I just can’t to plain, raw almonds. I like roasted and unsalted. Somehow I discovered the dried cranberries were a great flavor and texture combo. Add some White Cheddar Pirate’s Booty and you have a great, flavorful, low calorie snack.

Grapes, Pretzels & Cheese: You will notice that all of my snacks have a good amount of protein. I need them to be that way so that my blood sugar remains normal. I am hypoglycemic and the recovery time is something I don’t have when it comes to bouncing back from a sugar drop. I may be able to get it under control quickly, but it wipes me out. This is one of my favorite combos because I like the cold grapes. My cheese of choice is Dill Havarti. Yum

Pretzels, Brie and Apples: The key here is the right kind of apples. I prefer Granny Smith apples when I’m having brie. I might be apparent that pretzels are my go to crunchy snack, but I will throw in crackers every now and again.

 

Apples & Nutella: OK..ok…ok…simmer down. It’s not a horrible snack. A serving of Nutella is 2 tablespoons and that is plenty to provide a little sweet and a little protein (very little).  I don’t have this every week…it’s more of a ‘rough day’ sort of snack. (FYI – I have not yet figured out a trick to photograph Nutella without it looking like poo.)

 

Again…carrots are always thrown in here and there.

I hope you got some inspiration and ideas for happy snacking!

Back in the Kitchen and Back to Basics

One of the driving factors for me to leave an office job (especially the one that I had in the industry I was in) was the fact that I could not be consistent in providing The Rocket Scientist with a meal every night.  It was getting pitiful when I would come home at 8pm to see that he had stopped and picked up a week’s worth of microwave meals. A part of my heart would weep every night that would happen, but at the time I would literally walk in the door at 7 or 8m, drink a glass of water (and probably a few glasses of wine), eat some dry cereal and fall into bed. I woke up at 4:30 the next morning and was at work by 6 to do it all over again.

That had to stop…

Right now I’m in a mode to just inspire not only myself, but others to just get in the kitchen. To let people know that cooking a good meal doesn’t have to take a long time…and it doesn’t have to have an elaborate recipe to follow. I mean, most of the cooking I do (cooking, not baking…baking is a different beast altogether) is done by the seat of my pants and off the top of my head. That is ok, as long as you know what s in your cupboards, and what tastes good together, you have the makings of a good homemade, meal at your fingertips.

To prove my point, here is a simple meal that I made Monday night. The only forethought I had was in the morning to pull out the chicken to thaw out. Truly, this is all thrown together and there are no precise measurements. Again, as I said above…by the seat of my pants!

Baked Chicken, Red Potatoes with Dill, Steamed Asparagus (and Dump Cake for Dessert)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Place a 6qt pot of water on to boil

I use a bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cooked them all at once. I only use a few per meal, but at least then I have extra for meals later in the week (usually I will make chicken salad with the remaining chicken breasts).

In the bottom of a baking dish drizzle some EVOO. Place chicken breasts in baking dish; drizzle with some more EVOO and sprinkle with salt & pepper, or a spice mix of your choice (often I use Lowry’s Season Salt, but on these I used Penzey’s Fox Point herb mix. Sunny Paris is also great.  It has salt in it so I don’t need to add extra).  Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Flip chicken breasts, continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest. (If you chose, you could use a rotisserie chicken. You could stop on the way home from work and pick one up.)

While chicken is baking, place quartered red potatoes in the pot of boiling water and parboil (do not let them get too soft). Drain from water. In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add potatoes and 2 teaspoons of dill (fresh or dry). Sauté on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Before starting the potatoes in the frying pan, place asparagus in the pot to steam.

By the time the potatoes are done, your chicken should be out of the oven and the asparagus should be perfectly steams and still crisp. Once you are ready to serve dinner, throw your dump cake into the oven and it will be ready to come out and be served once the dinner dishes are cleaned and the left overs are put in the fridge.

Dump Cake

You know the drill…easy is the key word. You can get the recipe for the Dump Cake HERE.

I will be posting more of these types of meals. I will also try to get back to doing normal recipe type posts and step by step photos.

Everything I cooked could be picked up at the store quickly on your way home from work. If you use a rotisserie chicken, the time is cut even more!

Food that Transports

The past several weeks I have been missing my grandparents in a big, hole-in-my-heart way. My grandmothers in particular.

I was blessed with 4 sets of grandparents in my life due to divorce (it was a good thing from a bad thing!). Three set of grandparents took and active and loving role in my life when I was growing up, and my grandmothers were all awesome! I learned so much from each one of them – they were all so talented in their own rights – and I was given a priceless gift when they shared their knowledge with me. The wonderful connection between each of these beautiful women? They each loved to cook and made certain to spend time with me in their kitchens.

Two of my grandmothers were from the South (Oklahoma and Texas – living in Texas most of their lives). My other was from Ohio transplanted to California. Needless to say – good food was never lacking at any family event.  So, to soothe this aching heart, I thought I would make some southern comfort food yesterday.

This is not a fancy recipe, there is no real magic trick to this dish – it all just goes in a slow cooker or pot and simmers until it is done. However, the results – the smell and the taste, not to mention the smell, sound and feel of snapping the beans – transport me back in time.

I hope that you will try this for a great, easy and inexpensive family meal…the leftovers are amazing!

Ham Hocks, Beans & New Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4-6 Ham hocks (you will find these packaged in the pork section of your grocery store’s meat area – if not, ask the butcher, they will have them)

  • Fresh Green Beans, rinsed and ends snapped off (the amount will be up to you. For the Rocket Scientist and I to have dinner and a few servings of leftovers I used 3 large handfuls of beans)

  • 10-15 Small Red/New Potatoes (you can leave them whole or slice them in half

  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth

Add all ingredients into a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove hocks from pot and take off the outer fat and bone. Place meat back in pot with beans and potatoes. I serve this in a bowl with a cornbread muffin (when I’m really feeling nostalgic I make the Jiffy Cornbread muffins).

Like I said, this is a super easy recipe and I just wanted to get it up on the site because now is the time for fresh green beans! I will get back to my normal food posts soon – with many more photos than this!

Leave me a comment below and tell me what food takes yo back to your childhood or brings back warm, fuzzy memories!?

Super Bowl Sunday - Instead of Soup-er Sunday

Soup-er Sunday was last week. And yes, we did have soup – a simple beef stew. There truly was nothing magical about the recipe so I didn’t post on it last week. However, this week was Super Bowl Sunday and I wanted to try my hand at something a little different.

The Daughter in-Love and Lil Man are back in  Wisconsin for a funeral, the Son was home repairing the walls in his home after a full re-pipe needed to be done – so it was just the elder generations of the family. I called my folks and asked if they wanted to come over to watch the commercials, since none of us are really football fans – nor did we really care who won this particular game (although, it ended up being quite an amazing game!).

Enter my first attempt at a Low Country Shrimp Boil. Honestly – this was a dish I looked at and thought…it’s perfect for winging it! Given that the Sprouts down the road had bags of new potatoes on sale, I just jumped in! Here is my version of a Low Country Shrimp Boil.

Stacy Mac’s Low Country Shrimp Boil

  • 2 pounds uncooked shrimp (deveined, peeled and tail on…I used frozen as the fresh were not looking so great)

  • 2 packages Andouille Sausage, sliced

  • 3 pounds new potatoes, washed and left whole

  • 6 ears of corn, shucked, cleaned and cut into quarters

  • 3 lemons, washed and halved

  • Old Bay seasoning for the boil (I used about ¼ cup for the pot)

In an 8 quart pot, bring 4 quart of water to a boil. Place potatoes, sausage and Old Bay in the water and return to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Squeeze the lemons into the water and then drop the halves in as well. Add the corn and cook for 10 minutes more. When corn is tender add shrimp and cook until pink.

Drain off liquid and pour on to a large platter or a paper covered table. Sprinkle with Old Bay. I also used some Slap Ya Mama spice mix sprinkled over the top of the mixture. It was pretty darn tasty. You can see my paper covered table, with our names at our places as well.

 

We will be doing this again in the Spring, Summer and Fall – out by the pool!!

Soup-er Sunday Recap - FAILURE!

Empty Bowl.jpg

So, last Sunday was Soup-er Sunday here at the MacClan Abode. I told you I would be making Zuppa Toscana and that I would post a recap on Monday.

Well…I did make Zuppa Toscana, and I really did plan to post a recap. And then I don’ know what happened on Monday and Tuesday – but Wednesday I woke up with a mutant head cold in full on attack mode and I really don’t remember much after that. That is, until this morning when I woke up feeling as though a full Olympic sized swimming pool at set up residence in my nose. Sorry – over-sharing! (But seriously - I really think I've lost 3 days or more...I was just sitting here thinking it was Sunday. Good cold medicine!)

Another thing that I know – I didn’t take any photos of said soup. Thus, I don’t have any proof that I made this delicious meal – along with Caramel Apple Dump Cake for dessert – other than the happy faces of my satisfied family. But wait, I didn’t even get photos of that. EPIC FAIL!

I guess I will have to repeat this meal again and get photographic evidence!

However, to hold you over until the photos come forth, here is the recipe I used for Zuppa Toscana. Not exactly like the Olive Garden, but pretty darn close.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound(s) Italian Sausage (spicy)

  • 4-6 Russet Potatoes - sliced thinly (I used a mandolin)

  • 1 Onion - diced

  • 1/4 cup(s) bacon, cooked – coarsely chopped

  • 2 tablespoon(s) minced Garlic

  • 32 ounce(s) Chicken Broth

  • 1/2 bunch Kale, coarsely chopped

  • 1 cup(s) Heavy Whipping Cream  

  • Crushed Red Pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

Crumble and fry sausage in a pan (just as you would hamburger meat)

Place sausage, chicken broth, garlic, potatoes and onion in 6 quart soup pot with enough water to cover all ingredients. Cook on medium heat until potatoes become tender (about 30 o 40 minutes). Add cream and kale and cook for another 10 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle in crushed red pepper and stir. Serve.

My apologies for no photos other than an empty, albeit pretty, bowl - we shall return with another Soup-er Sunday recap next week, along with talk of a name change for this segment!