Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shirley J

What is Shirley J?

Let me try to give you the reader's digest version:

First of all, I should mention that I am an official Shirley J Home Chef now, which means that you can purchase the products from me if you are so inclined. Also it means that I will eventually be holding cooking classes in my home where we will demo and taste their products and you will be able to purchase them right there.

Ok, now on to the company and it's products:

Shirley J was started 30 or so years ago by a food chemist that wanted to come up with a universal cream sauce/soup base (basically like what you would call a roux or white sauce). He did, and it is inexpensive, delicious, heats and freezes without breaking down, easy to make (just add water and heat), and so versatile that you can use it almost every day. It has a 30+ year shelf life so it can be part of a food storage system, but I challenge you to try to keep it on your shelf for that long!

From this product many others were designed which you can peruse on their website by clicking on the Shirley J button on the right ---->
(Also newly added a line of bakery mixes which I made a loaf of bread with recently)

FFWD to 2009, the company was purchased by my Dad and his brother and a couple of other friends-- ergo I learn a lot about the products and how great they are. Then, I pass that knowledge on to you. Generous of me, no? Oui.

Chicken Cordon Bleu --Crockpot style!

I actually don't have a picture for this one, but try to imagine:

Recipe:

Frozen Chicken Breasts
Shirley J cream sauce base
Leftover Honey baked Ham
Emmenthaler Swiss Cheese

So, I mixed up the cream sauce base in the crock pot, added the frozen chicken and ham and cooked for about three hours on high. Add the sliced cheese when plating the dish and not while cooking it. We also cooked green beans to go along with it and drizzled the sauce over it all.

My kids loved it!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ham Soup

Um, this was too easy. I love making soup!




Recipe:

Leftover honey baked ham (still good though) cut into bite sized pieces
frozen corn/black bean/pepper/onion veggie mix (generally called southwestern mix found in most grocery stores --this does so many things)
1 c. Shirley J cream sauce and soup base mix
3c. water + more to thin to desired consistency

This was a great use of leftovers, what I did was mix up the soup base in my pot and started cooking it. Then I added the rest of the ingredients and cooked through. The best part about this Shirley J soup base is that I can (and did) boil it back and forth as I played with the burner temp, and it doesn't curdle like cream. This is what also makes it a dream to reheat--which I also did.

**TIP**
my kids think that anything above lukewarm temp is burning hot, so to cool down soup I figured out this little trick: Add crushed ice and stir, no blowing necessary!

That's another great thing about the soup base, you can add water and it thins evenly! Hooray for Shirley J!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Crockpot Chicken

My first easy meal. You'll see a lot from the crock pot with me, because I love to set it and forget it ( I never tire of that phrase!).



Recipe:

Frozen chicken tenders
vegetables (I used a medley of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, but I think I would like it better with just carrots and celery because they hold up better)
Shirley J crock pot chicken seasoning

Brown rice (cooked separately) to serve with

This was delicious, I love the way that the chicken sauce tasted and thickened up! All I had to do was add it with a little water and throw in the chicken and veggies. SUPER-FREAKIN-EASY.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Way

Everyone has their own way of doing things, and this is mine. I don't want to take away from other methods or insinuate that my way is the best, but it works for me. Let me know if you have any suggestions, I'm always looking to make things better and easier!

I'm a Costco fan. I'm not much of a bargain shopper, I just like having things in large quantities at my fingertips. Warehouse shopping has a bit of a bad rap because there is a tendency for people to go overboard. If you know what you are doing though, you can avoid this. Speaking strictly of food, here's my advice:

Meat. Buy your meat at Costco. And because my cooking leans toward the erratic side, I heavily utilize my freezer. For example, today I bought:

* 6lbs of Ground beef separated into 1lb patties which I later individually packaged and stored in my freezer (and while I was shopping I found a bag of frozen packages of groung beef in 1lb increments--made mental note for next time)

* 1 package of 2 beef roasts which I wrapped individually and froze

* 1 package of two pork tenderloins that were already individually packaged which I froze

* Salmon, Mahi Mahi, Halibut, and Tilapia that was already individually vacuum sealed and frozen in single serving portions

* Frozen Green Beans. These work well frozen, like peas, but other vegetables (try as I have in the past) really don't work frozen.

I also bought a few other things, but this is just an example of how you can have various types of meats available at all times for your meals.

Basically, my mantra for Costco shopping is: Divide and freeze. You can't lose.

And now I'm ready to start making dinner! (stay tuned)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shirley J Honey Wheat Bread

Bread. The most intimidating of all baking. Difficult to master, and requiring of loads of patience and work. You must knead, and rise, knead, and rise, and knead, and rise. And then, after all of that, you must bake, all the while on the edge of your seat wondering: Will it be too dense? Will it be too hard? Will it be crumbly? Will my family eat it? Will I be able to use it as a doorstop if they don't?

Well, my friends, wonder and worry no more. You may have noticed the Shirley J button on the right (you did? What observant and smart readers I have!), and thanks to this glorious company, everyone can bake bread like a pro on the first try. How? With a mix. That's right, you read that right, a bread mix. I know, I was skeptical at first too, I am after all, generally anti-mix. They never taste right, and really, who would have thought that something so difficult as bread would work in mix form and be so easy to make? Certainly not I.

But I tried it. I got this little bread mix from Shirley J and I measured out 2 Tbs. of yeast and added it to 2 1/4 warm water. Then I measured out 6 c. of the mix, and kneaded it for about five minutes in my machine. Then I divided it and let it rise and threw it in the oven for 20 mins. And viola:







It tastes wonderful too, and you can't tell in the picture, but the crust is soft which is very important to me, because I was raised on bread-maker bread and we had to use a buzz-saw to get through the crust. Not very practical. If I'm going to make bread, I want to be able to do it for everyday use, and have it work well for sandwiches. This mix does just that.

I used the Honey Wheat, but they also have a Honey White, and I believe a Sourdough is coming soon...

Anyway, click on the button to the right and visit their website, and try it out for yourself!

Also, they are having an open house at the main office in Orem, UT this week and next so you can go visit, get a balloon for your kids and eat their products. It's good clean fun. (click on the button for address)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welcome

Welcome blog readers, this blog of mine will showcase meals mainly for dinner that I make my family.  As stated in the title, I hate making dinner.  I decided to blog about dinner because I know I'm not the only one out there who hates making it.  My goal is to make delicious dinners for my family regardless of the fact that I hate doing it, and maybe that will help some of you fellow haters to figure out this thing called dinner.


Bear with me as I get it up and running...