Finding Beauty In The Kitchen

Finding Beauty In The Kitchen

While receiving a food shipment today the bananas intrigued me with their bright green color. I wanted to take a picture so I wouldn’t forget about finding beauty in anything you see…never forget you can find beauty in the most simple things….

** Instagram: CulinaryGirl138 **

Rice Cooker Series: 123 Flavorful Chopped Grilled Chicken!

Grilled Chicken Tacos!

Grilled Chicken Tacos!

Hello my foodies!

I am back again with another creative and yummy way to use the rice cooker. I am not sure if I ever told the back story of how I started using my rice cooker for things other than rice…well here it goes! In my current job I have the pleasure of running a food program for a preschool/childcare center. I create monthly menus, prep and make the food, do weekly food orders, I do it all! When I first started I was introduced into a kitchen that was not like the typical commercial kitchen I was used too, in my opinion my now kitchen is a better version home kitchen but with a big freezer and fridge with:two convection and convectional ovens, a movable stovetop (its on wheels), dishwasher, two food warmers, and two rice cookers. Now with these kitchen appliances you can make lots of things but you have to be creative and think bigger. Everyday when I go into work I think of, what can I do to make this recipe better. I love that I even have the creative freedom to make anything in that kitchen mind. (I know I am going sooo off topic and your saying go to the recipe!) But I just wanted to say without this creative freedom it would be difficult to truly enjoy what I do. As you have read, creativity is a way a life for me and without it I feel lifeless. I am sure every single one of you feel the same way one way or another. But in short that is the back story of the birth of my countless rice cooker recipes haha! Now on to the recipe!…

This recipe in my opinion is one of my favorites to make. I love how the chicken comes out and you can make this recipe in sooo many different ways! It is also very simple (Beauty of the Rice Cooker my friends!). So without further ado the Grilled Chicken for Quesadillas, Tacos, and many other things LOL.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds of coarsely chopped Grilled Chicken Breasts (I used frozen grilled chicken breast that I had thawed)
  • 4-5 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
  • 1 can or 1-2 cups of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp of Minced Onion
  • 1-2 tsp of Minced Garlic
  • 1-2 tsp of Chicken Poultry Seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp of Garlic and Pepper Powder
  • 1-2 tsp of Onion Powder
  • Paprika (Sprinkle for color)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • ***All seasoning measurements are optional, in my opinion seasonings should be measured according to YOUR taste level, so you can add less or more to make this dish yours 🙂

Directions:

  1. Coarsely chop your cooked grilled chicken breasts to small shredded pieces and set aside.

    Chopped Grilled Chicken

    Chopped Grilled Chicken

  2. In your rice cooker add about 1-1 and 1/2 cups of warm water and add your bouillon cubes, minced onion and garlic, onion and garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste and to create a broth.

    Chicken Broth

    Chicken Broth

  3. Once your broth is boiling add your chicken and stir your chicken in the broth.
    Chicken Stirred in Broth

    Chicken Stirred in Broth

    You will notice it seems a bit dry but your chicken will create more juice.

    Chicken moistened

    Chicken moistened

  4. As your chicken is cooking add your diced tomatoes and paprika to your chicken and let your chicken cook for at least 10 to 15 minutes till serving time.

    Chicken w/ Diced Tomatoes and Paprika

    Chicken w/ Diced Tomatoes and Paprika

  5. Now your chicken is finally cooked!
    Chicken Cooked and Full of Flavor

    Chicken Cooked and Full of Flavor

    The chicken is tender and filled with flavor, it is also low cal for all our health conscious foodies! You can make delicious dishes like chicken tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, the list goes on and on!

    Making of a Chicken Quesadilla

    Making of a Chicken Quesadilla

  6. Serve hot and enjoy 🙂

    Chicken Quesadilla w/ corn and salsa

    Chicken Quesadilla w/ corn and salsa

This dish was something I just came up with and its a favorite of everyone at my job. It is filled with delicious flavor and I am sure if you make this it will be a favorite of yours as well! I hope you guys experiment with this yummy dish and even a create a taco night!

Chicken Tacos!

Chicken Tacos!

Happy Cooking 🙂

It’s The Month Of Love – Jazz Up Your Work Space!

My Kitchen Door All 'Jazzed' Up :-)

My Kitchen Door All ‘Jazzed’ Up 🙂

To All My Creative Minds,

So this week I was inspired to jazz up my kitchen door at work. I am not a  HUGE valentine’s day person (No bitter feelings LOL) but working with children inspired me to make my door more welcoming and festive for the holiday.

The kitchen is called Pookie Cafe (Do Not Ask Me Why LOL)

The kitchen is called Pookie Cafe (Do Not Ask Me Why LOL)

I went to my favorite craft store and bought some really cute scrapbook paper (Which was on sale for 19 cents!) and wanted to use them as a base for made up frames.

Frames with Foam Hearts

Frames with Foam Hearts

I had bought foam glitter hearts and stencils all which were for a dollar each. This by far was the most inexpensive craft  project I have done!

Another Heart Frame

Another Heart Frame

So my friends whether it is Valentines Day or any day of the year jazz up you workspace. Not only do you get your creative juices flowing but you liven up your work environment. I know for me when I was done decorating my door it put a big smile on my face and the compliments were great. So let’s get creative my friends and inspire yourself  in your workspace 🙂

Creativity Quote (Image from: behance.net)

Creativity Quote (Image from: behance.net)

For Those Winter Days…Creative Cream of Chicken & Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup

Hey my culinary foodies!

So if anyone lives up north you probably feeling as cold as I am! It is FREEZING!!! I mean living in NY has its many advantages, the cold winters is NOT one of them! One way to comfort yourself is making a nice bowl of hot soup. While I’m not a soup person, this cold front were having would convert a non soup person into a soup lover! At work today I made a Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup for the children and I have to say the children loved it. While I like to make soups from scratched for the most part, I am a fan of Campbells Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup.

Campbell's Cream of Chicken

Campbell’s Cream of Chicken

I used it as the starter of my soup, and I have to say it makes life easier ESPECIALLY when you have to make soup for 100+ kids. Even when using condenced soup from a can you can be so creative especially with cream of chicken, you can use it for not only soup but different sauces, cassoroles, the list is endless. Here is my quick and easy Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Campbells Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup
  • 2 (cans) of Hot Water – use the can for the hot water
  • 1-2 cups of Fresh or Frozen Veggies – I used broccoli, peas, carrots, and corn but you can pick whatever works for you

    Broccoli, Peas, Corn, and Carrots for color and flavor..gorgeous huh :-)

    Broccoli, Peas, Corn, and Carrots for color and flavor..gorgeous huh 🙂

  • 1/2 – 1 cup of Cooked Brown or White Rice – while I am a rice lover and love lots of rice some may not so the amount of rice is up to you

    Cooked brown rice to add texture to the soup

    Cooked brown rice to add texture to the soup

  • 2 tsp of Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp of Onion powder
  • Parsley to sprinkle in and on top of soup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour the can of soup in your pot and scrap off the rest with a rubber spatula

    Cream of Chicken Soup in pot

    Cream of Chicken Soup in pot

  2. Add cans of hot water and whisk soup till combined

    Soup and Hot Water being whisked

    Soup and Hot Water being whisked

  3. Add spices and herbs and set your soup under medium heat till simmering

    Herbs and Spices added to the soup

    Herbs and Spices added to the soup

  4. Combine veggies and rice to soup and simmer for about 20 minutes

    Cream of Soup w/ Veggies and Rice

    Cream of Soup w/ Veggies and Rice

  5. Add salt and pepper to soup and set to low heat
  6. Serve and enjoy the hot soup with nice crunchy bread, cold or hot sandwich 🙂

    Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup w/ Turkey Grilled Cheese

    Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup w/ Turkey Grilled Cheese

I told you that this recipe is easy! You can add whatever spices get you going or any veggies you like the choice is yours. Being creative no matter how you start a dish is the beauty of cooking. So I hope you get a chance to either make your own version or if you do not have the time go to your fave  local restaurant and buy a nice cup or bowl of hot soup, find a good movie and keep warm in your favorite blanket when you get the chance on a cold day.

Enjoy and keep warm my culinary friends 😉

MACing it Up! Creating Your Signature Mac and Cheese

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese w/ tomato and grilled chicken

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese w/ tomato and grilled chicken

Hey my culinary peoples!

So during this long and crazy week I had the pleasure to make Mac & Cheese for the kiddies. Normally I would make a standard mac and cheese but lately I have been experimenting with different old recipes that I normally use. Maybe because it is the new year but I definitely been in my creative flow and have been making new changes to recipes ever since!

Now Mac & Cheese is nothing to really mess with, while it is a simple dish, many make different variations and there is always a debate about whose Mac and Cheese is the best! Reason why I love Mac and Cheese, you can be as creative as you want to be You can go either simple or gourmet, death by cheese or subtle, or even add various things like chicken, bacon, veggies, the possibilities are endless. So in my search for a unique way to make mac and cheese, I came across this homemade baked mac and cheese recipe (Courtesy of divascancook.com). What was unique about it was they had added cream cheese to their cheese mixture and I thought that was just brilliant! Once I had tried the recipe I knew it would become a stable for future mac and cheese creations. Another thing that I about the recipe was how creamy and flavorful the mac and cheese to the point it resembled the Haitian baked macaroni and cheese that I LOVEEEE (A staple side dish at any haitian event involving food, if you do not believe me ask any haitian person!) The haitian mac and cheese or macaroni de gratin, is filled with yummy flavors such and onion and garlic, they many put different meats and cheese or keep it simple. Now that you clearly know how much I love Mac and Cheese we will now get to the recipe!

Courtesy of plumsintheicebox.com

Example of Haitian Mac and Cheese: Courtesy of plumsintheicebox.com

I will not lie there are alot of steps to my new mac and cheese creation but once you make this once you will not miss a bit in the future. It is simple and fun and guess what, I made EVERYTHING in my rice cooker prior to baking it in the oven! (I told you I love that rice cooker!) Now lets get crackin!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Pasta – (Your choice of elbows, rotini, any of these pastas will do)
  • Equal parts of Chicken Broth and Water to boil the pasta (Example: 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken broth)
  • 1 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 cups of Evaporated Milk (such as Carnation Milk) or Half and Half
  • 2 tbsps of butter
  • 8 oz of Cream Cheese (1 package of cream cheese)
  • 1-2 cups of Diced Tomatoes (I used 1 can of Hunts Diced Tomatoes) or you can use fresh (I def will try in the near future :-))
  • 2-3 cups of Diced Grilled Chicken Breast 
  • Olive Oil (enough to cover the minced garlic in the bottom of the pan)
  • 1 Tbsp of Minced Garlic
  • 2 tsp Onion powder
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • Paprika (to sprinkle on top)
  • 3 cups of Cheddar Cheese blend (I like to blend sharp and mild cheddar and you can even add montgomery as well or gouda – the desicion depends on your taste buds)
  • (Optional) 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese (to sprinkle with the cheese and on top of the baked mac and cheese you put it in the oven)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of Panko Bread crumbs (I found that panko bread crumbs are lighter and give the mac and cheese a great crunch)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Boil pasta with equal parts of water and broth till cooked and set aside or put in your baking pan
  3. In your rice cooker sautee your minced onion in some olive oil than pour in your diced tomatoes and stir in till simmering

    Diced tomatoes and minced garlic in Rice Cooker

    Diced tomatoes and minced garlic in Rice Cooker

  4. Meanwhile dice your already cooked grilled chicken breast and add the chicken to your diced chicken and minced garlic and simmer to enhance flavor.

    Diced chicken cooking in diced tomatoes and garlic (In Rice Cooker)

    Diced chicken cooking in diced tomatoes and garlic (In Rice Cooker)

  5. Meanwhile add chicken broth and butter to a medium size pot and reach to near boiling. While in the pot you can add in your seasonings such as garlic, onion, and salt and pepper. Than slowly add your milk or half and half to the broth and stir till near boiling and remove.
  6. Cut your cream cheese into chunks and add to your milk and broth mixture and whisk in, I had also used a hand blender to blend in the cream cheese to make the mixture smooth.

    mac and cheese 3

    Broth and milk mixture blended with cream cheese

  7. Once blended you can now stir in your cheddar cheese to the cream mixture than pour into your macaroni, than add your tomato and chicken mixture.

    Macaroni w/ chicken, cheese, tomato, and milk mixture

    Macaroni w/ chicken, cheese, tomato, and milk mixture

  8. Once all added sprinkle parmesan and cheddar cheese on top of macaroni mixture and put into the oven for 25 minutes or until golden.

    Mac and Cheese prior to being baked

    Mac and Cheese prior to being baked

  9. Serve straight out of the oven as a side dish to your fave meal or even by itself with your fave veggies.
  10. Enjoy and trust me you will!

    Bon Appetit!

    Bon Appetit!

I hope you are not overwhelmed with the recipe, this is one of my many creations of baked mac and cheese. Cooking should be looked as a creative form of expression, when I cook or bake anything I like to be creative and see how far I can take a standard recipe and make it my own. I encourage anyone who cooks or bakes to next time instead of following the recipe to the T to switch it up! You might surprise yourself on what kind of new creation you make 😉

Happy Cooking my culinary friends 😀

Nothing Beats a Bowl of Homemade Soup ;-)

Chicken Noodle Soup with a sandwich on the side ;-)

Chicken Noodle Soup with a sandwich on the side 😉

Hello my fellow foodies!

So for today’s menu at work it was chicken noodle soup and turkey and swiss melt. Normally I prepare the soup out of the can ( I know DEFINITELY not culinary savvy). But I was inspired to prepare it from scratch. Now I am going to tell you some of my secrets of how I made it. As much as I have the standard equipment, I have found some tricks that I use on a daily at work. One of them is a rice cooker. Rice Cookers in my opinion is one of the best kitchen gadgets in the planet, and if you do no at have one, GET ONE! With the name rice cooker you think that your limited to just rice, but there is soo much more you can do, from steaming veggies and fish, to cooking pasta their is a lot you can do. One thing I love to do with the rice cooker is to make soup. I have made soups like broccoli cheddar, marinara sauce from scratch,  The water heats quickly and stays nice and warm so whenever your ready, your soup is fresh and hot to be served! Here is how I made a simple yet delicious chicken noodle soup that all the children enjoyed.

 

Courtesy of casnocha.com

Rice Cooker – Courtesy of casnocha.com

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 pieces of Grilled Chicken Breast – diced into small edible pieces
  • 12 cups of water
  • 6 Chicken Bouillon cubes
  • 1-2 tsp of fresh minced Garlic
  • 2 tsp of Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp of Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Parsley – either freshly chopped or dried
  • 1 pkg of Pasta – for the children I used ABC Egg Noodle pasta
  • 1-2 cups of fresh of frozen Vegetables – I used a bag of frozen mixed veggies that include corn, green beans, peas and carrots for color and for taste
  • Salt and a dash of Pepper for taste

Directions:

  • Fill your rice cooker with water to the 12 cup line and add bouillon cubes, onion and garlic powder and minced garlic. Cover with lid and heat till it boils.
  • Once the broth is at a boil add your chicken, vegetables, and cooked pasta to the broth and simmer till close to a boil. **The Rice Cooker tends to boil more quickly than cooking on a stove so keep a close watch.
  • Add salt and pepper to your taste level and you can set the soup to warm or serve immediately.
  • Serve with a sandwich or nice warm bread such as a baquette and ENJOY!

These simple and fool proof directions will give you a very yummy and enjoyable soup for you to enjoy. The children loved the noodles in the soup and the broth was light yet flavorful. So before I forget everyone please go get a rice cooker! You will thank me later when you do 😉

Happy Cooking 🙂

Beating the Workday Blues…

So today I drive into work in the pouring rain (it poured so hard I could barely see where I was going!!) and I thought to myself how today was not going to be a busy day…boy I was wrong. I currently work part-time as a cook at a local country club and on fridays its usually a relax day in terms of the morning shift. Believe it or not I love the morning shift. As much as I hate waking up early in the morning I love being the first one in the kitchen and setting up. And on friday’s I usually get the kitchen to myself which means playing my music (occasionally singing along), prepping, and cooking orders. So you would think friday yay, easy chill work day but I was exhausted. Maybe cause of the running up and down or the fact I fell asleep late but I just was not as energetic and peppy as I usually am. So to pep myself up I just focus on what I’m making (aka make my food nice and pretty lol). One item I made which was for our take out box is a Italiano wrap. The wrap contains prociutto ham, ham, roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese, and is served with basalmic vinaigrette. Its a yummy wrap and also a popular menu item. I also made myself passion fruit tea with splenda which I turned it into an ice tea. It was yummy and so refreshing that it put a smile to my face. It has become a work must have now a days…well anyway before I ramble on stay tune for the next couple blogs I have yummy recipes in store which I know you guys will like 🙂

Passion Fruit Ice Tea

Passion Fruit Ice Tea

Italiano wrap

Italiano wrap