Cooking & Boys 101

Every year my school does Winterim for the first two weeks of school after Christmas Break. The kids have 1 class each morning, and one class each afternoon. Some classes are academic, some involve life skills, and some are just for fun.

I had the opportunity to teach cooking! A life skill AND fun. For 3 hours every afternoon 6 girls and I hung out at my house, cooked some good (and some not so good) food, and had a generally good time.

They finished out the two weeks by having a chopped challenge.  Each girl picked out a random ingredient for others to use. These included cactus, seaweed, veggie straws, and more. Somehow they managed to make most of it work.

Here are some of the favorites the girls made. Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

Potato Soup

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Fried (but actually baked) Chicken

Broccoli & Cauliflower Casserole (We all LOVE the Pioneer Woman!)

Oh…PS… I’m not allowed to repeat anything the girls told me about boys. But it wasn’t until Thursday of  the 2nd week that they realized I had so much dirt on them.

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Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Who doesn’t love Spinach and Artichoke dip? When I worked at Applebee’s, it was one of the more popular appetizers. I love it too, but I had never made it until this cooking class. We made a few small adjustments tot he recipe. It wasn’t hard to make, and served with crackers, it was delicious.

  • 1 small can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 300. Combine the artichoke hearts, spinach, cheeses, mayo, and garlic in a medium bowl and mix well. We ended up putting the artichoke hearts and the whole package of spinach in the blender with the garlic and mayo. It was so much easier to chop it and mix it that way. We added the cheese after, but still mixed it in instead of just leaving it on top.

Put the mixture in a greased 8×8 pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until heated through.

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Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Salsa… such a great snack. One that so many people (including my husband) love. I don’t love it. I have an issue with chunky foods. It’s a personal problem.

I do, however, like Corn & Black bean salsa.  I think maybe because it’s SUPPOSED to be chunky. And it’s super healthy. Jacob would eat it for a meal if I let him. Actually, sometimes we do eat it for a meal, though not intentionally.

You only need a few things:

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 6 roma tomatoes, diced
  • cilantro to taste
  • lime juice

Just mix it all together. Seriously, it’s so easy. You can eat it right away or let it sit in the fridge for an hour and let the flavors meld.

I’ll actually make this if we’re having any kind of mexican food.  It goes great on tacos or on the side of enchiladas. So why not make it. Your taste buds will thank you.

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Fried (but really baked) Chicken

The girls were very excited to find a fried chicken recipe. They didn’t realize until the next day that the recipe actually called for it to be baked… way less fun. But I like to improvise… so we did both.  Half of it was baked, and half was fried.  Both were good, but the fried was better…such is life.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2-3 lbs. chicken – we used boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 packages Good seasons italian dressing mix (or just season it yourself)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt

Mix dry ingredients in a bag. Toss chicken in bag and shake. Put chicken on baking sheet. Brush with melted butter. Bake 1 hour at 350. (Or fry with oil until done.)

Again, because of the busyness of cooking class… no pictures. Sorry!

 

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Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

On the very first day of class, the girls flipped through several cookbooks to find things they wanted to learn how to make. Their very first choice was this Chicken Pot Pie. It was easy and tasted great. We made a few changes from the original recipe, but they were (in my opinion) for the better.

  • 1 (3 lb.) chicken – we actually used boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (16 oz.) package mixed veggies – we used fresh carrots, frozen peas, some diced potatoes, and some diced onion… because we had those things for other recipes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup of oleo, melted
  • 1 cup bisquick
  • 1 cup milk

Stew the chicken until done. Remove bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. We cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and then cooked them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Put into a 9×13 inch pan. Add vegetables, broth, and soup. Mix together the oleo, bisquick, and milk. Pour over the chicken and veggie mixture. Bake at 350 for an hour.

 

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Potato Soup

We have been working with comfort food. Last Friday was cold, and we were tired and droopy from our first full week back at school. It was definitely the best day for soup. And the soup was wonderful. It was thick and hearty, almost like a stew. We ended up giving some away to my neighbor, who also really enjoyed it.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 pounds potatoes
  • 1 package bacon
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 pound carrots
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt & pepper
  • paprika
  • butter

First, chop up your potatoes, carrots, and onions and put them in a dutch oven with some butter. Season to taste with paprika, salt, and pepper.  Stir frequently so that nothing sticks to the bottom. When the veggies start to get soft, add in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer, cover, and stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, cut the bacon and fry it up! I like to cut the bacon before I cook it. Then I don’t have to try to break it up when it’s hot. And I eat less in the process. When it’s cooked, move it to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the grease.

After the veggies are cooked, slowly add in the milk and mix continually. Add in the cheese slowly, stir as it melts.

Last, add in bacon. We love bacon. It may have been my favorite part of the soup.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I was busy helping 6 teenage girls cook 🙂

 

 

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Only the Best Potato Salad Ever!

I’ve never been a great lover of potato salad.  I mean… it’s potatoes, eggs, and mayo, what could possibly be special about it, right?  It probably didn’t help that I have pretty much zero memory of my mother ever making potato salad.  It just wasn’t a thing we ate.

My dear husband is a potato salad lover.  It’s one of his favorite foods.  But he’s also a potato salad critic.  It is nearly impossible to impress him (because duh, the whole potatoes, eggs, mayo thing…).  In fact, he really only likes his mom’s potato salad.  He has always claimed it’s the best, as have many of his aunts, uncles, cousins…

Last summer, she taught me how to make it.  It even has a secret ingredient!  One of his cousins almost didn’t eat it when she found out I had helped make it, because then it wasn’t truly “Aunt Ruthann’s.”  But it passed the Jacob test, and since then I’ve been able to make it several times since.  Today, I made a small bowl to go with our burgers.  Ruthann doesn’t use any real measurements, so you just have to make it to taste.

Here’s what you’ll need:IMG_2354

  • potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • eggs
  • sweet pickles
  • mayo
  • mustard (optional)
  • salt & pepper – to taste

So easy to start, boil the potatoes (with some salt) and the eggs.  While you wait, dice up the sweet pickles.  I don’t like pickles, but they’re part of the salad, so what can I do… but put in less than Jacob would like 🙂

Just about the most pickles I was willing to put in today.

Just about the most pickles I was willing to put in today.

Obviously the eggs will boil faster.  Once they’re done, you can crush them up small and put them into a bowl with the pickles.  Then you’ll just have to wait a little bit for the potatoes to be done.  I read a chapter and a half in my book while waiting.

Once the potatoes are boiled, dump them in the bowl too.  Then mix in the mayo and mustard.  I don’t think my mother in law puts in mustard, but I like mustard, and Jacob hasn’t complained yet.

Mix it well!  I also added in some paprika and garlic powder.  Then tasted to check if we needed more salt & pepper.  It was fine. Sometimes I chop some onions in there too, but today was not one of those days.

There, a whole post about potato salad without giving away the secret ingredient.  Unfortunately none of your potato salad will be as good as my mother in law’s, but I’m ok with that.  You will have a great base to start with.

Grilled Burger & Potato Salad - what a summery meal!

Grilled Burger & Potato Salad – what a summery meal!

Jacob ate almost all of the potato salad.  I had the little scoop shown above, Jacob had 3 helpings.  There is just enough for us to each have some for lunch tomorrow.  Yum!

Not much leftover.

Not much leftover.

Jacob's 2nd helping - almost half his plate

Jacob’s 2nd helping – almost half his plate

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