Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A&J Tackle PW: Week Six

Week six.  We've been doing this for six weeks.  So, are we either totally awesome...or total dorks.  I'm feeling like it might be a little of both.  But we (okay, I.  I don't want to speak for her, so I will just say I) am having a blast!! And I think Nick is enjoying all this yummy food.

However, I'm starting to feel like my weight loss stall out might be related...

Anyway.  This week, we're attempting to knock out Summer Stir Fry (p174), Chicken Parmesan (p130), pan fried spinach (gross) (p 216), Beef and Bean Burritos (p66), and Fried Chicken Tacos (p162).

Oh, and for anyone who stumbled across this post from google and has no idea what's going on, here's the skinny.  My bestie Angela and I are cooking our way through the Pioneer Woman: Food From My Frontier cookbook.  We're trying EVERY recipe and writing up a quick review of how we liked it.

~Summer Stir Fry~
This was ho-hum for me.  I don't eat shrimp and I forgot to buy corn.  Oh, and I don't eat tomatoes either.  So basically, I was eating a hot dog and picking out the zucchini.  Which was really good.  I don't know that this is anything Nick would ever request, but if I made it, he would eat it.  He enjoyed it.  I think.  Ava liked it, and the boys ate all the shrimp. Truth be told, if I weren't doing this with Angela, I would have just skipped over this entirely.  Which is too bad, because it's a great way to use up some veggies!

All right.  Here's what Angela has to say about her version of the summer stir fry:

I did not make this at all like the recipe called for. Sorry. 
What I used was: hot chili oil, seasame oil, fish oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce, olive oil. 
I put olive oil and hot chili oil in the pan and sauteed the peeled/deveined shrimp (I do not understand the point of keeping the tails on shrimp to cook it, not at all). 

I sauteed the shrimp, removed it from the pan. 

Added olive oil, chili oil, fish oil to the pan, added the vegetables (this time I used fresh corn and I will never ever ever use frozen corn again - fresh corn is so so good) and sauteed them (of course I added mushrooms also{ew, she likes mushrooms.  AND tomatoes}).  I poured on some of the oyster sauce and the soy sauce, mixed it up, finished sauteeing it and tasted it to see how it was. 

I removed that and put it with the shrimp. 

Then I used 2 cups of cold rice, put the olive oil, chili oil, fish oil in the pan, sauteed it, poured on some oyster sauce and soy sauce and kept sauteeing until it tasted how I wanted it. 

This was soo so good. We don't all live near authentic Asian food and this was so good I can't even begin to explain. 

Sorry I don't have any measurements. 

So.  I guess she liked it?

My friend Melissa made these with us, and she used salmon instead of shrimp.  She really liked it too, so I guess I'm the odd man out.

  • -2 Tablespoons Butter
  • -2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • -4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • -12 whole Jumbo Shrimp, Peeled, Deveined, Tails Left On
  • -2 whole Zucchini, Sliced On A Slight Diagonal
  • -2 ears Corn, Kernels Sliced Off
  • -½ cups Grape Tomatoes, Sliced In Half Lengthwise
  • -Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
  • -Chopped Fresh Herbs, If Desired

Preparation Instructions

-Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 

-Add minced garlic. When oil/butter is hot, add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Do not clean skillet.

-Add the rest of the butter and oil and heat over medium heat. Add zucchini slices in a single layer and cook for one minute, tossing once. Scoot the zucchini to the edges of the pan, then add corn kernels to the middle of the pan. Cook for one minute. Add grape tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and toss around, then add shrimp. Cook for an additional 30 seconds, then remove from heat. 

-Serve on a big platter.

Hint: Much better after it’s been allowed to cool for a bit! Yummy and refreshing.

~Chicken Parmesan~ 

Mmm, this was good.  I've actually  made this before, way back when I first 'met' the Pioneer Woman.  I made it when we lived off base in Guam.  In case you were interested.  This time was better, probably because I was cooking in my badass birthday Le Cruset mackdaddy pot.  That makes a difference.

And because I'm a better cook now.  Duh.  Practice makes...better.

Anyway.  This is good.  Nothing to push the kids out of the way for, and I'd rather get the chicken FRIED fried, if you know what I mean.  Olive Garden (I know everyone else on the planet hates Olive Garden, but I happen to love it, and I haven't been in two and a half years and it SUCKS) does their version FRIED fried, and the corner is just this crispy crunch piece of and Nick always fight over that little piece.

Anyway.  This sauce is better than the Olive Garden sauce that they put theirs in.  Isn't that bogus, how they put it in a crap sauce? They have better sauce than that one.  Why do they do that?

Oh, and I ommited the sugar.  I still have a bad taste in my mouth about how sweet her beef and noodles was, so basically, if she's calling for sugar in a non-sugary recipe, I'm skipping it.  For now.

Oh yeah, and I bought a box of thin linguine, just like she says, and then I forgot I bought it and used regular spaghetti.  Groan.  What am I going to do with this box of thin linguine? It's REALLY thin.

This time, alls Angela said is that she followed the directions, it was the best chicken parm she's ever had, and she'll be making it again.  She also seasoned her breadcrumbs with a little Italian seasoning.

Chicken Parmigiana

Added by Ree on October 19, 2009 in Main CoursesPasta


  • 4 whole (up To 6) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Trimmed And Pounded Flat
  • ½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • ½ cups Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ¾ cups Wine (white Or Red Is Fine)
  • 3 cans (14.5 Oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • ¼ cubes Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 pound Thin Linguine

Preparation Instructions

-Mix flour, salt, and pepper together on a large plate. Dredge chicken breasts in flour mixture after you season them with salt and pepper first.

-At this time, you can start a pot of water for your pasta. Cook linguine until al dente.

-Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, fry chicken breasts until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
-Remove chicken breasts from the skillet and keep warm.

-Without cleaning skillet, add onions and garlic and gently stir for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom. Allow wine to cook down until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
-Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. 

-Allow to cook for 30 minutes. Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give sauce a final stir.

-Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and completely cover them in grated Parmesan. Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly heated. Add more cheese to taste.

-Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce. Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve immediately.

~Pan Fried Spinach~
Eww.  I made this.  Nick ate all of it.  The kids each tried a bite without a fight, but no one asked for more.  I put a bite in my mouth and promptly spit it out.  Sorry, I just can't do it.  The only way I like spinach is ground up in a smoothie and covered with strawberries and yogurt.

Angela liked this.  She said she's not a huge spinach-on-its-own eater, but that this would be good in other dishes.

The recipe is not on the internet.  Probably because spinach is gross.  Not looking forward to this at ALL.  I like spinach one way and one way only: in my smoothie, completely covered by the taste of strawberries.  But here we go.

Pan Fried Spinach p 214&216
bunch of spinach (or kale)
3 tbsp olive oil
5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and quickly stir it around to avoid burning.  
Throw in the spinach and cook for about forty five seconds.  If using kale, I guess it takes about two minutes.

~Beef and Bean Burritos~

I have high hopes for this, because I absolutely love her simple perfect enchiladas.  And this basically looks like that, but with beans.

Hmm.  While I was cutting and pasting, I just realized that these are microwave burritos.  Not sure how I feel about that.  We'll see.

WORD.  This were REALLY good.  They look so simple, and they are, but it's good.  What can I say.  I made up the burritoes and then stuck them in a dish to bake them for a few minutes.  The microwave weirded me out.  In hindsight, both ideas are stupid.  I had an extra that I couldn't fit in my oven dish, so I ate it over the sink while the other ones cooked.  It was hot and gooey and perfect, just made out of the pan like that.  So that's what I'll do next time.

Oh, I used taco seasoning because we're out of oregano.  And I forgot the cilantro.  But I did have leftover salsa (her salsa is from heaven.  For reals) and it was AMAZING.  Seriously, these are good.  Go make them.  It takes ten minutes.

Here's Angela:

Let me say that i do not like refried beans. at all. {From the girl who eats mushrooms and tomatoes}
I loved this. I did everything exactly as the recipe called except put more cheese in the burrito b/c I love cheese. This was so so good and SUPER easy.


  • 2 pounds Ground Beef
  • ½ whole Medium Onion
  • 1 can (7 Ounce) Mexican Tomato Sauce Or Enchilada Sauce
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Cumin, Oregano, Chili Powder, Garlic To Taste
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Refried Beans
  • ¾ cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 12 whole Burrito-sized Flour Tortillas
  • Extra Grated Cheese, For Sprinkling
  • Extra Sauce, For Drizzling
  • Cilantro Leaves, Optional
  • Optional Filling Ingredients: Mexican Rice, Sour Cream, Guacamole, Green Chilies, Pico De Gallo

Preparation Instructions

-Brown ground beef with onion and season to taste. Pour in sauce and simmer over low heat. Add water if mixture gets too dry.

-Heat refried beans in a saucepan. Add cheese and stir in till melted. Keep warm.

-Heat tortillas in microwave for one minute.

-Spread a small amount of beans on each tortilla. Add meat. Fold over ends, then roll up. Place two burritos on a microwave-safe plate. Drizzle red sauce over the top and sprinkle with more grated cheddar. Microwave for one minute, or until cheese is melted and burritos are very hot. Serve immediately.

OPTIONAL: Fill burritos with any optional ingredients you like. (I love them full, but my boys like them very plain.)

~Fried Chicken Tacos~

When I first saw this, I thought it was a taco with fried chicken.  Alas, it is not.  It is a chicken taco, that is then fried.  So like, a taco.  The shell is the part that's fried.  We might do soft because that's easier for the kids.

I did mine in a fry daddy.  I had to wear an oven mitt because I kept getting splattered.  I'm not sure if any chicken fell out, but I don't think it did.  This was really good, but lots of work.  I'll probably make it again, but only on the weekends.

Here's Angela:

ok. I made this just like she said, at first. When I put that chicken taco in the grease it splattered EVERYWHERE and made a huge mess, then the juice from the chicken touched the oil and it sizzled and splattered even more! 

So, I turned the oil off, put one of the tortillas in the oil, folded it, held it closed with the tongs, and flipped it over, then put it on the paper towel. THEN I put the chicken in it. 

It turned out pretty good. They were chewy and tasty. 

I probably won't be doing it again though, too much work for the additional fat that it brings. 

I'm with her on the fat part.

  • 16 whole Corn Tortillas (small Size)
  • 4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Pieces
  • Salt, Cumin, Chili Powder To Taste-or just use a taco packet (that's what it says on the web.  What her book says is "1tsp chili powder, 1tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 2 cans (4 Ounce) Diced Green Chilies
  • 1-½ cup Finely Grated Cheese (cheddar Or Cheddar/jack Mix)
  • Sour Cream
  • Hot Sauce (Chulula Or Other Brand)
  • 2 cups Thinly Sliced Romaine Lettuce (or Any Lettuce)
  • 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • Canola Oil, For Frying Tacos

Preparation Instructions

*Be careful frying with hot oil!*
-Season diced chicken liberally. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes. Dump in the diced green chilies. Stir and cook until chicken is totally done inside. Turn off heat and set aside.

-Have all other ingredients—grated cheese, sliced lettuce, diced tomato, sour cream, and hot sauce—ready.
Also have a plate ready, as well as a stack of five or six paper towels to hold in your hand.

-To fry the tacos, heat a couple of inches of canola oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high. Place some chicken in the middle of a tortilla, then fold tortilla in half. Clamp the tortilla shut with a pair of heat-proof metal tongs, then carefully lay the taco—one side down—in the oil. As you lay it in the oil, use the tongs to hold the top side down for a few seconds to form it in place. Once it stays put, repeat with two other tacos. Turn tacos after 30 to 45 seconds, or when each side gets light golden brown (not too brown.)

-One at a time, remove tacos from the pan with tongs, holding sideways as you remove them to allow oil to drip out of the sides. Place the taco in the stack of paper towels. Fold the sides and corners around the taco to tightly hold it, then give it three or four shakes to remove excess oil. Remove it from the paper towels and place on a plate. Repeat with other tacos in the pan.

-As you continue frying the other tacos, have someone carefully place some grated cheese inside the tops of the tacos (gently pry them open just enough to place the cheese in). Then just let them sit until ready to serve—the cheese will melt as it sits in the warm taco.

-To serve, garnish in this order: a smear of sour cream, dashes of hot sauce, shredded lettuce, diced tomato. You’ll need to slightly open up the tops of the tacos to get all the garnishes in there.

-Tacos will be hot for a minute or two after frying, so don’t rush into eating! They’ll stay nice and warm for a little while after frying.

So that's week six.  We're taking next week off, but then we'll be back with some more goodies.  I bet you can't wait!!!

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