Eat Something

{October 17, 2008}   Garlicy-er Limey-er Pasta
My wacky BeeGee helping me in the kitchen...

My wacky BeeGee helping me in the kitchen...

So I made Amber’s pasta a while back but knew I wanted some changes so I finally got to it and it was a hit!!! The BeeGee helped me in the kitchen and sang his own disturbing version of “It’s getting hot in here” to the broccoli as we prepped it… meanwhile, he somehow manages to stand on a chair shaking his shoulders and booty while rinsing and plucking leaves from the 4 broccoli stalks and passing them to me as he’s singing without missing a beat… “It’s getting hot in there *points into pot of not yet boiling water for the pasta and broc* so let’s take off your leaves… I am getting hungry (uh uh), so help me take your leaves off.” At which point he falls in to giggles and flashes an ornery grin and I groan to myself at the fact that hubby clearly exercises little caution with his selection of school driving tunes, but am at the same moment mildly amused at my silly boy… (Don’t get me wrong I like Nelly and all I just didn’t think it wore well on my 4 yo…)

while boiling the sauce, I was serenaded with Lets get it saucy, saucy

while boiling the sauce, I was serenaded with Lets get it saucy, saucy

Garlicy-er Limey-er Pasta
8 oz box spelt rotini
1 head broccoli florets (about 4 c)
1 lb chicken breasts, cut in strips
1/2 head of garlic, minced
olive oil

quick taste for the cooks...

quick taste for the cooks...

1.5 T ea: butter and flour
1.5 c chicken stock
1/4 c lime juice
(and zest of one lime, optional)
1 tsp ea: blk pep, garlic pwd, onion pwd
1/2 tsp ea: salt, smoked paprika, cayenne, thyme
parm to garnish

Boil the pasta in salt water for about 5 mins, stir in the broccoli cover and cut off the heat. After starting the pasta (but before adding the broccoli), soften the garlic and start browning the chicken in a little olive oil… push the chicken off to one side, make a quick roux melting the butter and flour together and whisk in the liquids and seasonings… mix the chicken back thru anad bring to a boil… drain pasta and broccoli and toss with the chicken sauce… top with the cheese and serve…


{October 17, 2008}   Shortcut Chicken and Dumplings

Ok, so I like my chicken and dumplings with veggies in it… now usually this is just the typical broth making veggies… but on occasion I want this loaded with veggies, like this time, so that it is an all in one pot dinner that needs nothing on the side but a drink… but it’s abnormal, no one I know puts this many veggies in it at all, not my dad, not my friends, not restaurants, no one–but oh well I’m do what I feel like kind of girl so I guess I’ll scoff at convention… now truth be told chicken and dumplings to most of my southern friends usually means chicken, thick saucy broth and dumplings (like in the link below); and to the majority of my yankee friends, it’s a creamy chicken soup with huge biscuits floating on top (which can only cook from one side and even with flipping end up kinda chewy and strange in the center, god bless ’em)… 

well, I married just such a yankee so he’s got this contrary line of thinking… and I made him chicken and dumplings the way my daddy did as we grew up with a roll out biscuit dough dumplings that you cook submerged in the liquid… he thought it was great but said it just didn’t have the comfort food factor because the dumplings were different, almost like gnocchi… having never had gnocchi at the time–and thinking they seemed just like daddy’s dumplings to me–I tried really hard not to roll my eyes, even hearing my grandfather’s voice in my head saying “Don’t wall your eyes” but I clearly must not have been successful… as the Hubs followed up with “I mean that in a good way. I love gnocchi. And this isn’t so much the same as similar.” and I smiled at him but thought to myself it’d be a long time until I’d put so much work into dinner again…

but of course the irritation passed rather quickly, as is usual for me, so I made him one with spoonfuls of drop biscuits (some submerged for me and some floaters for him)… he found this mildly more familiar but complained it was still not the same… and yes it really was complaining and he even waxed nostalgic about the dumplings he grew up on… and at the time we were still so newly married and in that honeymoon phase that I didn’t/couldn’t just tell him “Duh! I’m not gonna make anything that’s the same because I think your way is nasty… But you’re welcome to get in the kitchen and make it the way your mama used to if you want it like that.” or something to that effect, as I probably would have had it happened later in the sequence when I was comfortable enough to be my snarky self… so instead I said, “Well this way was a bit of extra work, so if you don’t really like it I’ll just make it my regular way from now on…” To which he replies, “Ok honey, that’s fine. I like your cooking anyway. You can make whatever you want. Really.”

Well the catch is that one of his favorite foods (not his favorite favorite, but high ranking) is of course chicken and dumplings… and my way(s) were not satiating that favorite craving… So over the course of our marriage I’ve asked tons of people how they make theirs in the hopes of discovering a different dumpling method that might serve as a compromise for us… Generally, there was more variations to the soup base than there were to the dumplings… so I finally got the tip from someone that they used cut up canned biscuits… at the time, I didn’t think to ask more questions and figured that it was essentially a roll out dough cut smaller to minimize the nasty middles problem with floaters… but later came the second tipper to mention the same cut up canned biscuits, but she explained that she indeed cooked them submerged… I was excited by the ease of doing it this way but decided to hold of on it because it really would be the same thing the Hubby didn’t especially care for so no particular compromise… well, again I found the canned biscuit tip online, but this time I really liked the idea of trying it…

so yes, it’s true it’s no compromise and makes no head way to his side… but now that we’ve got 4 kids and crazy hectic evenings it sounded the perfect time for shortcuts… so I’m trying it and I even sold the Hubs on the idea that it was a compromise somehow when he mentioned they’d used canned biscuits… (but truth be told I’ve picked up another online tip for baking the “dumplings” resting on top of the soup in individual dishes… which may prove to be somewhat satisfying to the Hubs while not being undercooked for my tastes… so that’s in the works for the future, though I plan to test it with more of a beef stew base as I dread that it may turn out undumpling-ish from baking and don’t want to exacerbate things in this arena…) and just as one last word, this is nothow I normally make my chicken and dumplings base for those of you who know I use it for pot pie… but I don’t see why this couldn’t work (just cut the buttermilk to 1 c or so and add some corn starch to it, stirring it in after the meat and veg warm thru… bring to a boil to thicken to put under a crust instead of fussing with the dumplings… or cool it first if you wanted a double crust…) if that’s what you wanted to do…

girlies bowlful... that thing there on the spoon that'd be a dumpling... the shredded chicken made it hard to tell the difference by photo...

girlies bowlful... that thing there on the spoon that'd be a dumpling... the shredded chicken made it hard to tell the difference by photo...

Shortcut Chicken and Dumplings
1 roasted or rotisserie chicken
1 can layered biscuits
about 1/3-1/2 c ap flour **
1 qt chicken stock
2-3 c buttermilk
2 c ea: green beans and carrots
1 c ea: corn and green peas

I boiled the beans and carrots in the stock until I was done pulling meat from the chicken (I pulled the meat because I got lazy–I’d had an exceptionally bad day and it was going to be another scout night full of paper mache on the other side of things not rest, so I was a bum and I regretted it–but I’d recommend you cut it as the cubes I bothered to cut before I lost interest worked better IMO…) strained out the beans and carrots, added the dumplings in 3 batches each kept submerged under a third of the chicken, and a third of corn and peas, straining out and adding to the beans and carrots as I went…

after the last batch has been strained out, whisk in your buttermilk as needed to get the broth as you wish texturewise… (I apparently didn’t do a good enough job of shaking off excess flour from the dumplings as mine was as thick as paste and took more milk than I’d planned…) taste the broth and season as desired–I think I did more Mrs Dash grill seasoning – prob 2T, about 1T ea: s/p, g/o pwd… add back the reserved stuff and mix well…

** I seasoned mine with 1.5 T Mrs Dash chicken grilling seasoning and a little salt, because when I make my dumplings I put seasonings inside the biscuits and though this would help… it did so little I’d vote for not bothering… (and yeah mine’s Lily too, as ap pretty much always is in this house… but a hard white wheat would make no difference here, so if that’s not what you keep on hand as your staple you can use what you keep on hand for this… I mean you’re just dusting, it’s not like you’re actually making the biscuits…)

{October 12, 2008}   Asian-ish Orange Chicken Burritos

Inspired from Publix’s Asian Chicken Quesadillas With Sweet Orange Brown Rice and of course the semi-recent success of the Dinner Divas Mandarin Orange Chicken spinoff success… the verdict: not bad but the brown rice didn’t hold it’s own so much for me I found it a little bland but the Hubs insists it was fine and the 6 yo said it was “the best sandwich [he] ever tasted”… so I don’t know maybe I didn’t add enough salt or then again maybe it’s just the cold… who knows…

Asian-ish Orange Chicken Burritos

inside, outside, but not upside down... HAHA, I crack myself up...

inside, outside, but not upside down... HAHA, I crack myself up...

1 c brown rice
2.5 c water
1 T butter
2 T rice vinegar
salt, 1 tsp ginger, 2 tsp garlic
1-2 cans mandarin oranges in juice, drained (3/4 c juices reserved)
1/4 c sugar
1 T dk soy sauce (or tamari)
1 c water
1 lbs bnls/skls chicken tenders (mine were frozen)
1 bag Pacifica Veggie Supreme Salad **
1 c shredded colby jack cheese
6 10 in flour tortillas

Bring rice thru garlic to a boil and simmer until rice is cooked… Mix reserved juice, sugar, soy sauce, and water & bring to a boil… add chicken tenders and poach, flipping once… remove chicken and shred while poaching liquid reduces to a sauce… Mix salad together… add the shredded chicken to the sauce and coat…

add your shredded chicken to the sauce...

add your shredded chicken to the sauce...

add the rice, then the oranges...

add the rice, then the oranges...

add your chicken...

add your chicken and sauce...

add your salad, then add your cheese...

add your salad, then add your cheese...






To assemble: put a bit of rice on each tortilla, top with oranges, top with chicken and sauce (or not, as this chicken was good on its own and the rice needed a boost, so this sauce might have been better mixed with the rice… *shrugs*), top with salad and top with cheese… roll up burrito style, and put seam side down in a pan with a little bit of hot oil to melt the cheese and seal shut the burrito… flip and fry the top side until a bit golden… (if you’re gonna also crisp up the sides, then start with the side that tucks under the outer flap… then move to the bottom… this will help insure a good tight seal…)

** A bit lame on the add in veggies especially the peas (which though disappointing, is apparently is no fluke but a rather common occurance), so next time I’ll do my own version of this… I’m thinking: lettuce (which I’ll probably shred) or just a bag of mixed greens, maybe 1/4-1/2 c ea: snow peas and grated carrots, 2-3 T ea: roasted soynuts and sesame seeds, 1/3-1/2 c Brianna’s Rich Poppy Seed Dressing… (but truth be known, I may revisit the bag again too… LOL)

{October 11, 2008}   Crockpot Simmered Gumbo

So first thing first, this isn’t really a crockpot recipe in the since of dump it all in the crock in 5 mins or less on your way out the door… but rather a “I have time to cook the bits but I need to leave the house a few times while it is simmering so I’ll put it in the crockpot” kind of thing… so you do need to plan some time to deal with it either in the morning or the night before… and you could skimp on browning your meats and sauteing your veg if you’re not worried about the caramelization/flavor loss there… but you should really take your time with the roux and get it nice and dark over a slow heat as this will make a huge impact on flavor, and if you rush it you’re likely to either burn it or have uneven patches and starting over makes it take a lot more time than doing it slow and right in the first place… so at least plan time for the roux…

If you want to make the whole thing on the stove, just use a serving platter to pile the cooked meat and veg on as you go and while you make the roux, then whisk in all your liquid and bring to a boil… add back all your bits, cover, return to a boil and reduce to a simmer… then add the shrimp in the last five minutes or so from when you want to eat and simmer right in the gumbo (until they are pink and curled up tight like a clip on earring)…

with the shrimp and over rice...

with the shrimp and over rice...

Crockpot Simmered Gumbo
3/4-1 lb andouille sausage, sliced
1.5-2 lb cubed beef **
1.5-2 lb chicken breast tenders (mine were frozen), cut in spoon friendly chunks
2 qts chicken stock, separated (if you want to make this not in the crock you’ll probably want around 3 qts)
1/2 lb cajun style bacon ***
2 lg onions, diced
1 head garlic, minced
oregano, garlic/onion pwd, thyme, blk pep, bay leaves
1/2 head celery, diced (about 2-2.5 c)
7 carrots, diced (about 2-2.5 c)
about 1/2 c flour
1-2 bell peppers, diced
handful of okra pods (or say 7), finely sliced ****
1-1.5 T King Creole seasoning (courtesy of Joelen from the prize booty, but please adjust to your tastes)
2-3 lbs shrimp (most people will prefer these shelled, I’d suppose)

Preheat your crock on high, preheat your pan to med high or high… Brown up the sausage on both sides, add to the crock… brown up the beef on all sides (doesn’t have to cook thru just want a good sear with some nice browned bits), and add to the crock… then I added water to deglaze the pan and poached the chicken a bit to thaw it and make it easy to chop… chopped and added them to the crock… topped the meat in the crock with 1 qt of the stock… dumped the deglazed poaching liquid down the drain (as I didn’t need the extra liquid in the crock and knew the stock would be tastier)… reduce to medium, and set about crisping the bacon, drained off about 1/2 c of the bacon grease (most of it)and reserved… add the onions and garlic (more oil if particularly needed, I did not but depends on the leanness of your bacon and how crisp you cooked it, so you gauge that) along with the seasonings (which I actually remembered to measure but didn’t remember to write down) and cook until onions are becoming translucent… add celery and carrots (I add only half the celery to saute so there is a contrast of soft and crisp, but you can saute all or none as you wish…) and continue cooking until they caramelize a bit, then add to the crock… I reduce the heat to med-low (but you could probably get by on med if you are careful, attentive and a diligent stirrer) add the reserved bacon grease and the flour to the pan to make your roux, and darken to about a walnut color, stirring constantly… whisk in the other qt of stock and bring to a boil, boil 2-3 minutes to thicken and pour into the crock… add the peppers,okra, and cajun/creole seasoning and reduce the heat to Low and allow to simmer all day… when we were getting ready to eat, pulled out some of the gumbo broth into the pan to boil the shrimp and add back to the gumbo (I added them to the kids’ and the Hubster’s portions)…

give it a little stir... and now you are ready to simmer it, while you go about what you have to do...

give it a little stir... and now you are ready to simmer it, while you go about what you have to do...

this is about how dark you want it... trust me, it is worth it to go slow...

this is about how dark you want it... trust me, it is worth it to go slow...

Ive got carcasses, yes I do... but Im not making stock, how bout you?

Ive got carcasses, yes I do... but Im not making stock, how bout you?






             NB: technically, I took the roux a touch darker than the pic… but that was a good point to snag the pic and still get the broth in in time…

** If you want to use pork instead that is fine, but it’ll need to be cooked all the way thru first as it’s not gonna taste so good cooking from the simmer… hence beef is easier if you don’t have leftover pork roast or such on hand…

*** pretty much a hickory smoked one with a dry rub on it, so you can use regular and add more seasonings if you don’t have this… I just like that it’s smoked with the rub, need to get charlie’s to make it this way as their bacon would make a better base… [note to self: attempt to sweet talk the butcher into cajoling whoever smokes it]

**** but oddly this time it was truly a fluke as it was just a grab and bag… I only counted as I was chopping, but it brought a smile to my face… and I forgot to measure but I’m guessing this was in the neighborhood of 1 c… of course if you like okra feel free to use however much you want, personally I hate the stuff… but for me gumbo is not gumbo until it’s got that okra ooze in it (even if I do fish out the actual pieces)…

{October 3, 2008}   Paprika Chicken

Hubs made this pretty much from Redbook Recipe but sauteed/pan-fried instead of roasting… and make different sides… I really would like to try the roasted version with dark meat, but since this was made for skin-on bone-in chicken and we were using skinless boneless breasts I think it kinda needed the extra oil so if baking it with skinless chicken I would probably rub it or mist it with oil first (or maybe just add some to the glaze itself)… But on to it…

Paprika Chicken
1.5 T ea: smoked paprika, red wine vinegar, honey
2 T roasted garlic paste (cloves of roasted garlic muddled a little to make a paste)
3/4 tsp s/p and garlic pwd
3 IQF breast halves, thawed **

Preheat your pan, with a little oil… Mix all but the chicken and brush on one side of the chicken… Put in the pan glaze side down into the hot oil and brush the other side… Flip and cook the other side… (When we make it again I’ll be sure to get times…)

** emailer, and anyone else who may wonder: IQF = Individually Quick Frozen… these are just the pieces in a big 5 lb freezer bag that are individually frozen so you can pull out only what you need…

{October 3, 2008}   Lentil Hodge Podge
yeah, it is really nothing special but it was eaten by even the lentil groaners...

yeah, it is really nothing special but it was eaten by even the lentil groaners, aka. the kids...

Just a slap bash dinner, as I was tired and didn’t want to cook that night…

Lentil Hodge Podge
5 carrots, peeled and diced
3/4 lb frozen chicken, cut in chunks
2 c water
salt and garlic pwd
3 c leftover cooked white rice
2 c leftover saucy taco lentils or lentil soup (or a can of lentil soup? is that 2 c?) **

Boil ingredients carrots thru seasonings about 7 min (or until chicken is cooked thru and carrots soft, may vary based on your chopping, but it really took me 7 min I used the timer for you)… add rice and soup and simmer until warmed thru…

** Please note that if you aren’t using the taco lentils and/or your soup is bland you may need to add more seasonings as this is where most of the flavor comes from… chicken, rice, and carrots are good but not bringing much oomph so something has to shine as the star… and I did this with lentils that were pretty much just lentils–I think there were some onions and such, but if this was not full of chunks of things like sausage and potatoes and such… if yours is you can still use it you just may need more like 3-4 c or it to coat everything, but I’m betting it’d be yummy and probably better than this was… but sometimes you just gotta eat what’s on hand in the house… LOL

{October 1, 2008}   Spicy Chicken Tortelini Soup
This is super easy, and we have a few versions... you can make it in the crock instead of roasting veggies and just add the tortelini last minute as you prep for serving or whatever...

This is super easy, and we have a few versions... you can make it in the crock instead of roasting veggies and just add the tortellini last minute as you prep for serving or whatever...

always, with the how much seasonings... about this much...

always, with the how much seasonings... about this much...

Spicy Chicken Tortellini Soup
1 lb chicken tenders
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 c salsa (hot)
2-3 tsp ea: kosher salt and Mrs Dash Southwestern Chipotle
1-1.5 tsp dried cilantro
2 c water
3 diced red potatoes (1 c-ish)
pinch of sea salt
1 c frozen corn
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 c water (milk or cream would turn this to a chowder which I was going to do but decided against last second)
2 c cheese tortellini (1/2 lb-ish)

Poach chicken in liquid drained from canned tomatoes, salsa, seasonings and water… Meanwhile, roast @ 500: the potatoes toss with oil and pinch of salt and on a separate tray, the tomatoes, corn, peppers tossed with a bit of oil…

Pull out chicken and let cool enough to handle… Meanwhile, add the roasted veg to the pot and simmer… while simmering, separate the chicken into chunks and add back to the pot with the additional liquid and tort… simmer until tort float, about 5 more min-ish…

{September 30, 2008}   Waldorf-ish Spinach Salad

Waldorf-ish Spinach Salad
5-6 oz clamshell spinach
2 IQF chicken breast halves (microcooked topped with 6 capfuls of oj, and some salt and garlic powder… 10 min–from frozen, takes half the time if thawed–flipping every 2.5 min, let rest 5 min) **
2-3 lg handfuls/sm bunches grapes, halved
1 apple, diced
1 handful of nuts (optional)
1.5 fluid oz (3 T) olive oil
3 fluid oz (6 T) orange juice
3/4 fluid oz (1.5 T) spicy brown mustard
3/4 fluid oz (1.5 T) apple cider vinegar

Put all in a lidded jar (I use a baby bottle that is marked in 1/4 oz increments, but you may not have copious amts of baby bottles laying around) and shake to combine; or dump all in a bowl and whisk together; or toss all in a mini proccessor and blitz… [Note: This is the amount I used on the salad but you can make a bigger quantity and pop the leftovers in the fridge…]

** emailer, and anyone else who may wonder: IQF = Individually Quick Frozen… these are just the pieces in a big 5 lb freezer bag that are individually frozen so you can pull out only what you need…

{September 25, 2008}   Applesauce Meatloaf (patties)

This is a little too moist for a patty so you might want to use a little more breadcrumbs or a few oats to tighten it up if you want to use it for that… But this works fine as a loaf, that’s how I usually make it but the oven has been acting a little possessed and actually locked itself shut that night when I needed to make dinner… so in a hasty moment, patties it became–but I wouldn’t recommend it as a patty without some changes…

so-so as a burger... worked much better as a meatloaf though IMO...

so-so as a burger... worked much better as a meatloaf though IMO...

Applesauce Meatloaf
1.25 lb Ground Turkey
1 c chopped onion, sauteed
1 c applesauce
1 c plain breadcrumbs (I just used progresso not homemade or anything)
s/p, garlic pwd, thyme
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c parm

Straightforward really… Mix, shape into patties and pan fry…

{September 25, 2008}   Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad Wraps

Super Belated Dinner Diva… This was a would be road food on our menu 2 times, but both times replaced eating on the go with a sit down meal… Once I finally made it I still didn’t get around to posting it, but can I say I LOVED this! We made it with a cold rotisserie chicken ($3.33, I think, since they’d pulled it from the heat lamps and chilled it… so really not worth the effort to roast your own anymore at that price, so we bought 3 and froze two in gallon ziplocs for future laziness…) which made it so blooming easy… But it really wouldn’t have been much harder to cook the chicken if you were making a smaller batch, we just didn’t want to have to cook meat in two batches so this was a perfect fix as everything go done at once and really in very little time… plus leftovers for later, so win-win… minimum effort, maximum food… Very Yummy, we all really enjoyed this… (and the base was even a cooking light recipe, so maybe I should try more of their stuff… as this was actually tasty…)

the orginal recipe

Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad Wraps **
meat pulled from 1 rotisserie chicken (minus skin)
4 tsp Watkin’s garlic-ginger grapeseed oil (bought from one of Hub’s friend’s to support her efforts, easy enough to infuse your own though)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 (11 oz) cans mandarin oranges in juice (reserve 1/4 c juice when draining)
1/2 c green onion
1/4 c chive
2 tsp minced garlic
1 c chicken broth
2 T tamari (or dark soy sauce)
2 T cornstarch
1 head of cabbage, shredded
8 oz bean sprouts
8 lg flour tortillas

Warm chicken, oil, s/p, 1 can oranges, 1/4 c juice/syrup from oranges, onions, chives and garlic over med heat. Combine broth, tamari, and cornstarch; add to pan. Bring to a boil; simmer until thickened. Add other can of drained oranges (after this is when I took half out). Add cabbage and sprouts and toss well to coat/dress them then just wrap up in the tortillas…

** I only assembled half of this so I pulled half the meat mixture off to the side to cool for packing away, and only used half the cabbage, sprouts and tortillas…

{September 25, 2008}   Chicka Cherry Cola

Yep, it’s Eat to the Beat time and I did “I Want You” by Savage Garden at the beheadst of my little brother… I hestiated a bit a first, but decided I felt I could do fun things with this song and food… (The reason for my pause is this song and I have a soap opera story past, riddled with unforseen drama… and was once the source behind me being nicknamed Chicka Cherry Cola among other things…)

So on to the eats… I bet you could have guessed that I used chicken, cherries and coke, huh? I started with leg quarters because I saw them and thought of Amber and how I was telling her they were perfect for something sticky sweet and/or with something carb-y (so I also put this over mixed whole grains) and thus my first attempt at an Eat to the Beat was born…

Chicka Cherry Cola
4 chicken leg quarters (cut in thighs and drumsticks, and haphazardly skinned and trimmed of excessive fat)
flour for dusting chicken (maybe 1/2-3/4 c, no idea though since I never made note of it)
1/2 yellow onion
1 lg carrot
2 c cherries (I’d use 4 c next time)
1 T herbes de provence (I might sub something else never time–a little muddled with this pairing IMO)
2 tsp ea: garlic and onion pwd
1 tsp ea: thyme, salt, blk pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 c cachaca (or rum if you are normal)
2 cans coke
2 c hot water
1 T vanilla ext (next time I’ll plan on a bean I think)
1/3 c sugar
1/4 c creme de cassis/rasp reserve (leftover from PMG, but a cherry liqueur would work and might be better)
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c chopped fresh chives

Season the meat as you wish with s/p and garlic (not included in the amts listed above for the sauce) or however you season basic chicken before flouring… dry in flour and quickly pan fry in 2T of your preferred fat (I merely redendered some the chunks I cut off the chicken to have enough for the meat and veg, but oil works too) until browned on all sides… set chicken to the side and add the diced carrots and onions, with the alcohol (or a splash of vinegar in some water) to deglaze the pan and simmer until veg is soft and liquid is absorbed… add hot water and pour into blender to puree and add back to pan with seasonings and coke and bring to a simmer and pour over chicken and cherries in an oven safe dish andcover with foil… Baked 1 hr @ 375 and then drained off the reduced liquid to taste and adjust… decided to strain out the dried herbs (they’d done their job and I didn’t need that much mouth feel), and added vanilla, sugar and creme de cassis (I really wanted more cherry flavor but had used them all and had this tucked in the fridge and figured the berriness was a similar vibe to what I wanted), parsley, and chives before reluctantly–becuase I really wanted to add more cherry oomph but couldn’t–returning to the chicken for another 30 hr or so of cooking until the meat was to temp….

final oven stages... sorry, I neglectfully forgot to get a dished out pic over it's bed of grains...

final oven stages... sorry, I neglectfully forgot to get a dished out pic over it's bed of grains...

All in all, it worked out alright as a stand alone dish with another name but I think I could make this rock the name better with more tweaking… so it didn’t submit because it fell short in a confusing way, and I really couldn’t decide what it needed (except obviously the cherry hit)… Hubs and the kids really liked it, and I think part of my disappointment rested in the Cherry Cola-ness not being more oomphy…ever so technical I know. LOL) But my best guesses where I’d start: I think I would pull the extra thyme and replace it with rosemary and perhaps pull all the herbs and use just rosemary as a stand out kick instead… yeah I really think that could help, and I’d like to double the cherries and puree half of them to lift the sauce… I guess in the end it is a brand new dish I invented on the fly and I just want to tinker some more (however we’ve been to 3 stores since then–I was gonna doctor up the leftovers some more to see if I could get it where I wanted it–and can’t find any cherries… *sighs* so I may just have to wait until next year, as I really don’t think I’d want to bake frozen cherries that long… but maybe I’ll try it, who knows…)

PS. Oh and despite my vows to try the bobbypin tip the next time I pitted cherries I of course did not, as I hadn’t bought any (there’s always next year, right?)…
PPS. I made this at the beginning of the month but still may find time to do another before the deadline, which hopefully I’ll deem submittable…

{September 3, 2008}   Grandma’s Chicken Tetrazzini

Ok so I make tetrazzini plenty and while I know how to cook plenty well I’ve always favored a little something about g-ma’s sauce to any I’ve found or come up with (technically, I liked the Millsaps sauce a littlebetter but have long since forgotten what the staff told me about it as I never I cooked back then so never cemented a connection to that info capable of surviving the reboot so I dunno maybe I should look up Chef David again and re-ask…) and I’m now the proud bearer of the not-so-secret secret to her success so in homage here is her entire recipe and it was previously published in one of the T-town cookbooks, but I didn’t take note of the page…

Grandma’s Chicken Tetrazzini (my g-ma, Tylertown UMW’s “A Book of Favorite Recipes” 1986)
7 oz-box thin spaghetti
8 oz canned mushrooms, drained
1/2 c margarine
4-6 chicken breasts (cooked, skinned, boned and cut up)
sm jar chopped pimentos
2 cans cream of chicken
2 c sour cream
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
top w/grated parm

Cook spaghetti in chicken broth. Saute mushrooms in margarine. Mix soup, sour cream, s/p and add chicken and spaghetti. Turn into a buttered casserole and sprinkle with cheese, bake 40 min at 350. (Can be prepared ahead)

Ok, it’s not a huge alert for most of you out there as you may prefer white meat, but those who know me know that when not combined with other higher fat options I trend to using more dark meat because as my uncle Sonny would say (albeit in a negative connotation from him): “it tastes more of chicken…” But I was planning to use this light meat for the chicken salad wraps (because salad is supposed to be light and tasteless, right? just kidding… really because I had a big big package we’d bought and I wasn’t planning on eating too high fat for a bit, but needed to use it up nonetheless…) so it was already thawed and seemed enough quantity to stretch for us all if combined with the egg and cheese of the baked mac…

Breaded Chicken (aka. the Not Quite PW Yogurt Chicken)
2.5-3 lbs breasts (I thought they were bnls, skls until I got them out to cut them and realized I had a touch more butchering to do)
8 oz sour cream
4 tsp grainy dijon mustard
1/2 tsp ea: salt, garlic pwd, tarragon
1 tsp ea: blk pepper, lemon zest
1/2 c plain bread crumbs
1 T tarragon
generous but unknown amt of garlic powder
1/2 c shaved parm (broken into smaller pieces)

I cut the breast into split halves for the bigs and little nuggety pieces for the littles (note to lady di: the littles’ nuggets were also breaded in just italian seasoned bread crumbs as I figured the sour cream was plenty adventurous for the picker pair of them). Mix the sour cream, mustard and seasonings in one dish and mix the bread crumbs, cheese and seasonings in another. Rinse the chicken and pat dry; dip in the wet mix and then the dry coating well. Put on a well greased sheet pan and dot with tiny pieces of butter–by tiny I mean I cut a Tbsp of butter in half, then each pat into quarters one direction and quarters again the other direction so you end up with like 32 teensy little cubes to streeeetch it out, LOL–to bake (350 preheated oven and 25 min for split breasts flipping after about 15 min) or pan fry or a do a combo of the two until cooked thru…

PS. This may be a no brainer to some of you, but I had an absent moment: don’t cover this hot with cling film for transport, even if the intended point of destination is a stone’s throw up the street, as the steam will soggy up and uncrisp your lovely crust you so carefully cultivated. *sigh*

[NB my lovely neighbor: I’m usually a huge fan of the pan fry the crust crispy and then cook to temp in the oven method with chicken but this requires a thermometer, which I’m not sure if you have, and isn’t how I did it last night. But such a great way to have the best of both worlds so I’ll bring mine over to show you how to do it that way sometime… You will love it.]

{August 16, 2008}   Chicken Fra Diavolo
In the pot, sans the fresh basil (because a girl has to blog it already)

In the pot, sans the fresh basil (because a girl has to blog it already)

So the Hubs of course bemoaned the fact that I wouldn’t eat shellfish a bit (ok, more than a bit… enough that I actually said if he really felt he just had to use shellfish I could live with scallops), trying to explain to me about how the sweetness of the meat in shrimp, lobster, etc complimented the sauce so well…balancing the heat, etc. And I didn’t really care as I won’t eat shrimp (I could be staving next to a mountain of shrimp that overfloweth from the water and I would still die of hunger, unless the good Lord freed me of my tastebuds first) and I really wasn’t interested in going to shop for any other shellfish… So in some fabulous swoop of fate, we ended up getting a killer deal on some Mahi-Mahi (guess what I’m having tomorrow) and swinging by to pick up chicken instead after all. *gloat, gloat, gloat…beam, beam, beam* So on with the recipe (one of the handful of joys to fall out of marrying an italian)…

Pureeing the sauce some... (done prior to cooking down)

Pureeing the sauce some... (done prior to cooking down)

Chicken Fra Diavolo
6 tomatoes, chopped (or about 3 c drained canned ones)
1/2 can tomato paste
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 head of garlic, chopped
seeds from one bell pepper
1 T red pepper flakes
salt to taste
1 c white wine
2 chicken breasts, cut in pieces
1 lb fettuccine
1/4-1/3 c chopped fresh basil

Hubby did stuff…it tasted yummy. I’ll have him add the what and when of it all here real soon. Plus any extra ingredients if I missed ’em, but I think I was pretty good at note taking…From Hubby: Chop the garlic and saute in the olive oil over medium heat. Chop onions and add to garlic and saute until translucent approximately 5 minutes stirring often, (don’t want to burn the garlic). Chop the the tomatos into cubes and add to garlic and onions. (if you have time, you can boil and peel the skins off of the tomatoes.) Add the salt, tomato paste and white wine, bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes. Blend together until smooth, (I used a hand blender). Add Red pepper flakes and bell pepper seeds. In another pan, cook the chicken (seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder), until done. Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer about 10 more minutes. While the sauce and chicken is simmering make the fettuccine, (This also work well with other pasta’s especially linguini and farfalle). When pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce. mix together until the sauce coats the pasta and serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

PS. Oh and I’m rushing to pop it up for Joelen and the Tomato Spotlight so check out the Round up for more yummies.

So the Hubs wanted lentil soup, when the cat got out of the bag the kids all groaned. And remarks like “Lentil soup is boring!” and “Maybe I should go to bed early.” started flying, LOL. So I try to sell them on this idea of a brand new lentil soup, an “Andy Warhol” Lentil Soup with lots of pretty colors–because they are on an Andy Warhol kick since their last art project with Ms Amy (and by last I mean the most recent, but also the final of the series which they are none too happy about) and trip to the museum. And while they did take the hook a bit and act interested at first, upon learning it was still essentially the same thing, they deemed it would still be too boring to eat. And in an Andy Warhol themed twist, I bumped up the 5 yo’s request for “Possibilities” (aka. Campbell’s) to fit in tonight since it’s quick and not much trouble to make it or the sandwiches…

“Andy Warhol” Chicken Lentil Soup
1.5 qts broth (made from the roasted chicken carcass)
about 2 c chicken meat (pulled from the boiled bones before contining the broth, mosly white meat–which contrasted well)
1.5 c yellow onion
1 c chopped carrots
3-4 cloves garlic (I actually had another huge clove like before in this head too)
3 purple potatoes (maybe 1 lb)
2 c lentils
1 can tomatoes
1 tsp ea: cumin, thyme, lemon zest
s/p, cayenne, lemon juice to taste

Round 1: I started the broth, pulled the meat from the bones and added the bones and skin back to the broth pot with the onion root. Chopped the bigger pieces of meat and put the bowl in the fridge (I’m obsessively worried about poisoning myself with poultry, but maybe you could leave it on the counter I just don’t want to chance it). Let the bones simmer until they broke down…

Round 2: Drained the bones from the stock and reserved it. Started sauteing the onions carrot and garlic in a little olive oil. As the onions began to wilt, added the cumin, thyme, lemon zest and continue cooking them until the spices were fragrant and the carrots beginning to soften a bit. Then added the meat and stir well to coat in some of the oil and spices. Meanwhile, back when starting the other veg, I boiled the purple potatoes in some water and a bit of salt. When they yield with a little oomph, so pre-fork tender, drain the potatoes and let cool enough to handle. Add the broth, lentils, tomato and s/p to taste to the veg saute and chicken and cook about 15 min. Peel the potatoes, if desired (very desired with mine as they were pretty rough before cooking which only became more noticable), and cut into spoon friendly chunks and add to the soup. Taste again for any seasoning adjustments and simmer another 10 min or so.

Now I reckon I should have gotten a pic, but I didn’t… but it is so colorful and somewhat bizzare to behold. And I probably should have garnished it with something green for more contrast…but I didn’t. Really we just ate it with bread and went back for extra portions (thank goodness the kids opted out so we could). The hubs would have desired some sausage but I’d had more chicken left on the bird than I’d expected so I decided not to bother (maybe next time I’d use a little bacon or sausage grease for the sauteing to help him not miss it as much because I really liked it without the sausage). But strange colors aside, it’s really just a lentil soup and you could sub red lentils and purple potatoes in any favorite lentil soup you’d like for similar effect…and maybe your lentil soup recipes aren’t “boring” either, LOL.

{August 12, 2008}   Girlie’s Roasted Chicken

The Hubster pretty much did most of this start to finish so the rest of this post shall be his baby… (it was only my baby because she doesn’t like to touch raw chicken)

Girlie’s Roasted Chicken
4.5 lb chicken
1/2 yellow onion (happened to be root end, laying around needing a function), quartered
2 Tsp Kosher salt
3 Tsp butter, melted
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic pwd
1.5 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp Onion Powder

Rinse the bird and pulled out her bits, pat dry with a paper towel place on a rimmed baking sheet. Mix all seasonings but kosher salt, loosen skin on on breast and drumsticks and rub 1/2 of seasonings on chicken, rub the remainder in the cavities of the bird. Place quartered onion in the cavity also. Rub outside of bird with kosher salt, then “paint” the bird with the butter all over. Baked her at 400 degrees for approx. 1.5 hours, flipping bird over after 1 hour, until a golden beauty. Carved and served making both the non-bird dames in the house very happy.

Someone was asking at a board I “occasionally frequent” what we like to get at Wild Oats/Whole Foods, and while I did come up with a few things, this recipe is a great example… It just so happens I got (at least) the sausages, the beans, the safflower oil, the onion, and tomatoes–which I guess means it’s so good for me I should have another bowl, right?

Crockpot Tequila Chicken Black Bean Chili
1.5 lbs Tequila Lime Chicken Sausages
1 lb dried black beans, soaked overnight (I soaked with leftover onion root and 4-5 split garlic cloves)
1/2 lg yellow onion, sliced/diced how you like it in chili
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, sliced/diced how you like it in chili
4-6 bay leaves
4 oz tequila (split)
1 qt hot tap water
1 T ancho chili powder (if you are using chili seasoning, that’s code for it’s got salt so add it later with the other stuff)
1 (4 oz) can of fire roasted green chilies
2 (15oz) cans tomatoes
1 tsp cayenne
1 T ea: Watkins Fire Pepper seasoning, smoked paprika, ground cumin
2 T Seasons in the Sun Red Pepper hot sauce (I guess you could use the yellow, but I really didn’t want mustard in here)
3-4 T lime juice and s/p to taste

Preheat the crockpot. Brown the sausages in a little oil/fat. Add sausages and any cooking grease to the bottom of the pan, and deglaze the pan with half the tequila. Cover the sausages with the drained beans** and top with the bay leaves and onions and garlic. Cover with water (about 1 qt–but should be an amount equal to 1/2-2/3 your volume of plumped beans, so long as they are covered–if need be add more to cover and take the extra out later before adding the rest of the ing) and deglazing tequila, lid it and leave on HIGH for 1-1.5hrs. When beans are soft, test one, pull out sausages and cut as you want them–I made spoon friendly slices–add them back with the remaining tequila and other ingredients and simmer on LOW until time to eat.

** soaking onion/garlic discarded, you can scrimp on this if you want to but I like to minimize the Hubs bean gas every way I can and they are one with the soaking juice now so a bye, bye they must go… it’s not wasteful if it is for the greater good! If you don’t have extra on hand you can either not add them to the soak, add extra bay leaves to help counter them, or just embrace that side effect I suppose.

{August 1, 2008}   Coq au Vin-ish Calzones

So, my BFF made some burger calzones… I totally drooled as she talked about what she was going to make when she got home, and asked her more about them later. Well, she didn’t make them the same as flavors she’d mentioned but she walked me thru how to make them technique wise. Well as it turns out, humorously enough, as tempting as they’d sounded I didn’t make those flavors either (I contemplated making a “Black Jack Burger” type one since the Hubs gets likes to get those at Backyard, but had no pepperjack–so stay turned for that update as I might make them in a couple of weeks). Well a quick survey of what I had and I realized that I still needed to kill some mushrooms. So ‘coq au vin’ sprang to mind and as I looked through my red wines on the basement stairs I found a bottle I really wanted to drink… and thus dinner was born.

Coq au Vin-ish Calzones
3 oz diced bacon
1.5 c diced onion
1.5 c mushrooms
diced carrots & celery at your discretion (optional, I didn’t have any but I want to use them next time)
1 lb ground turkey
4 cloves garlic
2 T flour (1 T butter, if needed)
s/p, thyme and oregano to taste (generous)
2 bay leaves
a couple Tbsp tomato paste
2 c red wine (I used my fav S. African Cab)
1 c chicken broth
1 lb pizza dough
1.5 cups shredded gruyere cheese (or any mild swiss maybe with a bit of mozz, unless something sounds better to you)

Cook bacon and veg until bacon is crisp and veggies are soft. Add ground turkey and garlic and cook the meat thru. Stir in flour and cook a minute or so. Add remaining ingredients, mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer until liquid is absorbed or essentially so (any remaining liquid should be thick and saucy not runny). Let mixture cool a bit while you roll out–or toss if you’re nifty like that–the dough. {YOU SHOULD KNOW, THIS WAS MORE MEAT FILLING THAN WE NEEDED…you just may want to know that before you try to cram half of it in each meat layer, I don’t mind having it leftover though} Then leaving and gap at the edge for sealing: layer 1/3 of the cheese, some of the meat mixture, another 1/3 of the cheese, some more meat mixture, and the rest of the cheese. Fold the empty half of dough over and seal, then crimp or pleat the edge. Spary with a bit of olive oil (She brushed hers with an egg wash and sprinkled with parm and pizza seasonings, but I had different flavors here plus didn’t want to get the spices back out but you could clearly do something on it if you were inclined) and bake at 475 for 10-15 min (or 500 on your preheated pizza stone if you are super-cool like her and have one).

Et Voila! Courtoisie d’Amber, j’ai fait mon premier calzone. Go me, go me!! Now maybe she’ll give me a snazzy hat and let me be in the cool girls club with her.

{July 29, 2008}   Maui Burgers

“This one’s for the girls…” Martina moment aside, here’s the burgers for my fabulous sisters.

"Savory Seasoned" (these, in the freezer)

The ones to get: "Savory Seasoned" (look like this, in the freezer)

Maui Burgers (inspired from the back of the burger box when I pulled them out of the freezer)
Jennie-O preseasoned turkey burgers
1 can of pineapple slices, in juice
2-3 Tbsp olive oil or butter (or combo)
1 onion, sliced in half rounds
1 or 2 bell peppers, sliced
sweet and sour sauce (mine leftover from Eli’s takeout)
hot dog or hamburger buns

Thaw the burgers before cooking (especially if you will be grilling them, so as no rare poultry). Then put them on a preheated grill or grill pan (regular pan works fine too), straightforward enough cook them flipping once. Then for the rest: Saute the onions and peppers in a bit of olive oil or butter over MED heat stirring until the onions start to look a bit translucent (maybe about 5 min). Stir in a little salt and pepper and let them hang out over MED LOW stirring occassionally until everything else is done. Drain the pineapple, reserve the juice, and put it on the grill or pan to get a bit of golden or grill marks on it. Set them aside, on a plate if they look juicy enough or in the drained juices if they look dry. You can toast your buns if you like, but I’m a bread burner, and then assemble the burger with sweet and sour on both halves of the bun: bottom bun, pineapple on bottom, burger, onions and pepper another little drizzle of sweet and sour, and top bun–or however, you want really–and eat.

So when my little brother was visiting, I don’t know when, he was wanting to learn to cook. I showed him many things but the Hubs showed him how to debone and butterfly the turkey breast. Then we were going to put a saukerkraut stuffing inside and a Pastrami Rub on the outside. Well the pastrami rub we found somewhere on google (which I’d happily cite if I knew where it was so I may edit this later), tasted nothing like a pastrami rub but we decided that was fine because it was delicious and we couldn’t get enough. We even turned this into sandwiches for the papa when he came that afternoon to drive my brother back to his house.

The stuffing (pretty much from The Low Carb Cookbook)
3 oz bacon (we used the bacon from Charlie’s, my fav)
8 oz onion
1-1.5 lb sauerkraut, drained
1/2 Tbsp caraway seeds (you could add more as this wasn’t very noticeable, I’ll probably try 1T next time)
1 lg granny smith (a sweeter one could totally work here though, as long as it was one that kept its shape)
1 c white wine (I think we used )

We chopped the bacon (finely), onions, and apple. Then threw the bacon in a prewarmed pan on MED-LOW (I did this to render as much fat as possible, if you don’t care and don’t mind adding more oil later if needed you can cook at a higher temp but remember if you get it too hot you aren’t actually saving yourself anytime because you’ll just have to cool it before it can go in the bird) and cooked it slowly until it started to crisp. Then turned it up to MED and added the onions, and when they softened the sauerkraut, caraway, and apple. When the apples started to perfume a bit, we added the wine, turned up the heat some more covered and cooked until the wine was absorbed.

The Dry Rub (this is someone else’s and is labeled Pastrami Rub somewhere out there)
5T kosher salt
4T paprika
3T ea: coriander seeds and brown sugar
2T ea: black peppercorns and yellow mustard seeds
1T white peppercorns
8 cloves garlic, minced

Grind that which needs it, the seeds and peppercorns, and stir everything together. (We used my coffee grinder that is devoted to spices, to get a nice powder for the rub… and next time I’ll probably do garlic powder in place of the garlic to have a nice smooth rub

Assembling the Turkey Breast
Take the butterflied breast, massage the outside with the rub. Flip over, add filling, roll up and tie off in a few places (you could stuff and then rub, but rubbing first leaves the stings whiter so it’s easier to spot them later when snipping them free–not a big deal either way) and bake.

Ta-dah!! Enjoy my dear Little Hawk, and yes I think you could do just do one portion with a chicken breast (which be easier to butterfly too) but you’d have to trial run it too see how many breasts worth this made up to know how much to cut the stuffing and rubs… Start by halfing them, and ask the Pops to help you eat some if it makes too much (since you’re there anyway). Good Luck

et cetera