Archive for ‘Winter’

February 27, 2012

Collards

Collards. So good! I didn’t know how much I love them until fairly recently. A couple years ago I discovered just how much a bowl of collards in winter can change your life. Have you had this moment of realization? Typically, it’s the dark greens combined with bacon or a ham product of some sort. However, I don’t usually keep ham products around my refrigerator. (Allow the gasps in horror to commence.)

Okay. Recovered? So. This is a non-hammy collard recipe. I just wanted to see if I could get a good flavor profile without frying up a bit of bacon or including a ham hock. Or hocking anything at all. I think I did it, which is why I share it with you here. Now. This is not vegetarian. It could easily be. But come on, guys, I wanted to retain a little meatiness for my greens.

Collard Greens

1 T butter, unsalted
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 c chicken broth (or 2 c broth, 1 c water)
1 lb. collards, fresh from the garden
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste

Saute onion and garlic in butter in dutch oven over medium heat. Once the onions become translucent, add the chicken broth. Bring to a near boil. Add the collards and spices. Simmer for a couple of hours. To add more flavor depth, you may also add chicken drippings from a certain stuffed chicken recipe that you might be making at the same time.

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January 29, 2012

Stuffed Chicken

I cannot believe I haven’t posted about this recipe before. That’s just nuts!!! I’ve made it thrice now. My apprehension has a good foothold: Every time I make this recipe, I’m worried it won’t turn out well or I’ll mess something up. Also, there’s a lot of hands on time. And I get really excited when I make it.

This recipe is incredibly versatile, which means I narrowed down the options to share with you. To just one! Aren’t you proud?? It goes like this:

Single Serving Stuffed Chicken
Inspired by Cooking Light, June 2010

1 T olive oil
1 chicken breast
4 kalamata olives, roughly diced
1/4 c spinach, chopped
1 T feta
1/2 oz mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in an oven-safe pan over medium-high. Combine filling: olives, spinach, and cheeses.

Slice a one-inch slit into the side of the breast, move the knife around so you don’t puncture any other side but so that you give yourself room for the fillings. Fill. Place onto heated pan. Saute for 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over and put into the preheated oven for 12 minutes or until a slice into the thickest part reveals a thoroughly cooked chicken with no pink or translucency. Let stand for 3 minutes.

Enjoy. The melted cheese! The melded flavors. Oh. Man. I’m so happy for you that you might get to eat this. And, for that matter, I’m really happy for me, too.

Ehh. I couldn’t do it! Most of you probably want more than one serving, more than one option. Right? Here’s another, closer to the original and four servings.

Stuffed Chicken with Hummus, Feta, Tomato, and Olives
Inspired by Cooking Light, June 2010

4 chicken breasts (about 2 lbs., maybe a bit less)
1/4 c hummus
1/4 c feta
3 T diced tomato
2 T chopped kalamata olives
1 T olive oil

Follow same instructions. Enjoy.

January 25, 2012

Minestrone

I could eat soup at almost every meal. I say almost, because there’s still brunch and breakfast to consider.

Propped, Prepped

One of my favorite parts about this recipe is the fact that for most people, a grocery trip might not even be necessary. I needed to pick up a zucchini (That’s right. Just one.), some broth, and pasta. THAT’S IT!! For me, that’s an incredibly short shopping list for something that’s a) so, incredibly delicious and b) SO much food.

Minestrone
Inspired by Cooking Light’s Slow Cooker

3 c dried Great Northern beans
5 1/2 c chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large red onion
1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 medium carrot, chopped
32 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 c spinach
1 c kale
3 t Italian seasoning
1/2 t peppercorns, ground
1 c small pasta shells, uncooked (Aren’t you glad I didn’t make the MINIstrone joke?)
1/2 c Parmesan cheese

Have Halved

In a slow cooker, pour in your Great Northern beans. Top with water. Two inches above the beans will be sufficient. Crank it up to high for two hours, until fork tender.

Pour chicken broth into a large dutch oven and turn heat onto medium.

Mince garlic, chop zucchini, and dice onions. Sauté all. Once browned and smelling delicious, add mixture to broth. The broth should be hot enough to look like this:

Add sautéed vegetables and carrots to the broth. Add tomatoes. Add spinach and kale.

Add spices. Mix together. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for about two hours. Okay, you can simmer for about 30 minutes and get a similar effect, but the longer it goes, the more concentrated the flavors will be. After two hours (or until you don’t feel like waiting anymore) add your miniature shell pasta. Bring back up to medium heat, and boil the pasta in the soup. (Oh, the flavor!! The intensity!) Once the pasta is cooked through, the beans should be ready from the slow cooker. Add.

Spoon into a bowl (with or without a piece of crusty bread waiting at the bottom of the bowl). Top with Parmesan. Enjoy.

As a side note: Feel free to use beans from a can or precook your beans (as I could’ve/perhaps should’ve done) and add when you add the tomatoes.

This makes a LOT of delicious soup. After you add the pasta and the beans, be prepared to add more seasoning. Also, be prepared to freeze at least a portion. This is the gift that just keeps on giving.

April 18, 2011

Burgundy Mushrooms

Ooh, wee. These are absolutely delightful. Perfect paired with steak or with baguette or greens or by themselves.

Burgundy Mushrooms
Heavily Inspired by The Pioneer Woman

1/2 c butter (Can’t skimp on this. It’ll be worth it. Promise)
1/2 white onion
4 cloves garlic
1 (8 oz) package mushrooms (I used Baby Portabello.)
1 c Burgundy wine (or any red. I used Cabernet Sauvignon.)

Melt the butter slowly over medium-low heat.

Add the chopped onion.

And add the garlics.

That’s right. Now comes the mushroom component.

Oh, but first take out of packaging. You can add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms all at the same time if you’d like. It was more dramatic presenting it this way.

Stir it all about. Crank it to high until golden brown. Oh, yeah. Number one rule for cooking perfect mushrooms: Don’t overcrowd the pan. This pan is a bit too overcrowded. Just a bit.

Add the wine.

Stir, turn it down to simmer, and cook. Let the liquid reduce by at least half.

Look at that sauce!!! Just imagine how incredible. Now stop imagining and go do. Make. Love. Enjoy.

March 14, 2011

Simpler Salmon

I’ve talked to you about salmon before. I really like it. A lot. This uses the same marinade, but a different method. Let’s go!

Pour equal parts orange juice and soy sauce.

In a medium to large sized bowl, mix two parts each of orange juice and soy sauce to one part brown sugar (light or dark is fine here). Mix well. Put salmon into the marinade so that as much of the salmon is immersed as possible.

Let marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a roasting pan, place the marinated salmon and pour the marinade over and around the salmons.

Then, cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the salmon is fork flaky.

Enjoy. Again and again.

 

March 3, 2011

Simply Chocolate Cake

This cake is great and simple. Chocolatey but not overly sweet. Delicious and not long lasting at all. It gets gone. Quickly.

Simple Chocolate Cake
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 c buttermilk (or regular milk plus lemon juice or vinegar equalling 1 c. Do you know this trick? It’s great.)
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c A-P flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/4 c Ovaltine (because I ran out of cocoa powder. If you have enough cocoa powder, use 3/4 c and no Ovaltine, unless you want to found out how it ended up. [Pretty darn good.])
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 c chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk, or a combination)

Preheat oven to 325 degree F. Butter and lightly flour 9 x 9 pan.

Cream the butter until smooth with an electric mixer on medium.

Add the sugars and continue to beat until fluffy, about three minutes. Add the egg. Mix to incorporate. Then, add the buttermilk and vanilla. The batter will look a little… off. Too runny. Too clumpy. That’ll be correctly shortly. Leave it be for now.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, Ovaltine (if using), baking soda, baking powder, and salt). If you want this to be a one bowl dish, just sift the dry right into the wet ingredients! So great. Don’t overmix; just stir until combined, scraping down the sides. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into a loaf pan or a 9 x 9 pan. You know; that one you buttered earlier. Bake for 65 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then plop out and let it completely cool.

Enjoy it while you can. Like I said, this cake magically disappears.

 

February 21, 2011

Roasted Chicken with Rice, Apple, and Cilantro Stuffing

A whole roasted chicken. A whole one. Yeah. Just look.

This particular bird is 5.38 pounds. And it was delicious. Just giving you both facts and something to look forward to.

Rice, Apple, and Cilantro Stuffing

1 3/4 c cooked rice (brown, white, or a mixture)
1/2 diced apple
1/2 diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c celery, chopped
1 T cilantro paste, or 2 T fresh cilantro, or 1 T cilantro, dried
1/2 lime, cut into rounds
1/2 T cumin
2 t Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Salt

Cook the rice. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

After cooking rice per instructions (If using both brown and white rice, cook separately as they require different cooking times.), chop vegetables and fruit. I used a honeycrisp apple.

Mince garlic.

Then chop celery and slice lime. Compile and add to rice.

Add cilantro and spices. Mix together.

No, it doesn’t look all that pretty here. But set it aside. We’ll come back to it.

Let’s get back to that whole chicken. You’ll want to take out the neck and giblets. Yuck. Grossest phrase on this whole website. Every time I touch raw chicken, I wash my hands. I encourage proper hygiene when handling raw poultry. Pat chicken dry with paper towel then place into a roasting pan. Ask it if it’s comfortable. Make sure it is.

It is not easy to illustrate raw chicken without grossing yourself out. I hope you’re not experiencing similar reactions. So, see that loose skin there? I did that. It’s very easy, but you’ll use that as access to the breasts and drumsticks. This is your butter and spice portal. Take a pat of butter, softened, and rub over breasts under the skin.

There’s my pat. That and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cumin went under the skin, over the breasts, and around to the drumstick.

Now is the time to stuff the bird.

You might want to tie its legs together with twine. I had no twine. Therefore, this chicken is a little loosey goosey but not worse for the wear.

Roasted Chicken
5 lbs whole chicken
1 T butter, softened
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c vegetable broth

Place stuffed chicken (in roasting pan) in preheated oven. Pour vegetable broth over chicken. Leave it be for 40 minutes. Maybe baste it once with the vegetable broth.

Turn temperature up to 450 degrees F and bake for 25 more minutes, or until meat thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh reads 170 degrees F. With five minutes to go, you can dab butter over the chicken and stuffing. Careful not to burn yourself. (I burnt my thumb.)

Before taking the chicken out of the roasting pan, it’ll do you good to note that the roasting pan is incredibly hot. Very hot. It just came out of an awfully hot oven. Don’t touch the handles with your bare hand. Even if you’re just trying to turn the pan. Don’t touch it. It’ll result in painful, terrible burns. (Other thumb and index finger. Aloe and bagged frozen vegetables are my friends.)

Carve chicken with a chef’s knife if you don’t have a carving knife and serve with stuffing. Pick out the large bits of lime and squeeze over the stuffing and/or chicken, and discard the lime.

Wasn’t that worth all the gross and all the raw chicken and all the number of times you washed your hands? (And the burns. For me. Hopefully you’ll learn from my pain.)

February 19, 2011

White Bean & Dark Green Stew

What can I say? I’m smitten. That Deb over at SmittenKitchen.com (right here) is brilliant and fun and funny and a great, wonderful inspiration to an aspiring homecook extraordinaire.

Don’t over do a serving on this stew. It is hearty. Don’t, for example, try to test its temperature by serving yourself a bowl, thinking you’ll heat it up in the microwave, forget to heat it up in the microwave, then be forced to serve yourself another bowl and top it up correctly.

Here’s my first bowl::

I didn’t even give myself time to take a picture of it before I had mostly devoured it. Please take the time to savor your stew.

White Bean & Dark Green Stew
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

1 lb turnip greens, stems chopped off and leaves cleaned
2 c spinach
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 c carrots, chopped
1 c celery, chopped
1 large shallot (Use your judgement here. You can definitely use more. I just had one on hand.)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 c white wine, dry
4 c white beans (If using canned, use about 2 15-oz cans. Drain and rinse them.)
2 1/2 c vegetable broth
1 28-oz can tomatoes, crushed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Thyme
Bay leaf

If you’re using dried white beans, pour beans into a crock pot. Pour 2 and a half inches of water over the beans. Cook on low over night.

In a medium pot, boil salted water.

Once the water boils, add turnips and let boil for one minute.

Drain and squeeze precooked turnips. Coarsely chop. Set aside.

Drain.

Then, chop.

Meanwhile, pour out the water, wipe dry, and add 3 T extra virgin olive oil to the pot.

Peel the carrots.

Then, chop them.

Add to the olive oil.

Chop the celery. Add to the olive oil and carrot.

Peel the shallot(s).

Chop the shallots.

Smash the garlic.

!!

Peel the skins off the cloves then chop nicely. Then add to stove.

 

Scrape down those sides!!

After fifteen minutes, add 1/2 c white wine and 1/2 c vegetable broth. Cook that down until it’s reduced by three-fourths.

Add beans, tomatoes, the rest of the vegetable broth, a few pinches of salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to boil.

Crushed tomatoes, added. Next…

…The beans.

Then the vegetable broth. Reduce heat to medium-low for 20 minutes. Add turnip greens and spinach and cook for 5 minutes longer. Make sure you give spinach and turnips a proper introduction. Spinach, this is Turnips. Turnips, Spinach.

Turn heat off. Put  a lid on the dutch oven. Go get your haircut. Come back. Enjoy!!! Okay, the haircut part isn’t completely necessary. That’s just what happened for me.

Serve with toasted bread and monter (heh humm, Muenster) cheese.

 

February 17, 2011

Pear Bread

Pear bread. Pear cake. It’s in the shape of a bundt cake, but if the food doesn’t have a coffee in front of it, I don’t think we’re allowed to eat it for breakfast. Hence, bread. Also, it’s very, very similar to banana bread.

I have a feeling I should keep playing around with this recipe a bit. But it was fun making it the first time. So, allow me to tell you about it.

Pear Bread
inspired by Smitten Kitchen

3 c A-P flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 T ground cinnamon
3/4 c butter, softened
3 eggs
2 c sugar
3 pears, firm
2 t vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon).

Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.

Peel and grate the pears.

Add eggs, grated pears, and vanilla to the creamed butter and sugar. Once completely combined together, mix into the flour mixture.

Butter the bundt pan.

And pour batter in evenly.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.

Cool bread in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. The cool it completely on a plate. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Slice. Enjoy.

Advisory:: Be aware. Cutting yourself a slice of this bread even after a week, topping it with a tablespoon of honey, heating it up in the microwave for 22 seconds, then topping that with French Vanilla organic yogurt is INCREDIBLE!!! It’ll make you sing, make you feel giddy, and make you want at least one more slice.

February 12, 2011

Picture of the Week

Oh, look!! A picture for this week::

Sometimes food can sound like it has a negative self-image: steamed, poached, beaten, whipped, creamed, pulsed. But most of the time the words are actually delicious in a food context. I present: Steamed and poached. Both make for an excellent dinner. I loved this meal. I cooked it for just me, which is a miracle in and of itself. You see, usually when it’s just me for dinner, dinner looks like “Hm, cereal. No, tortilla chips. And hummus. Or just chocolate chips. No. Cereal. Okay. Now tortilla chips. And a carrot.” So snacky. This was a meal. And one I could be proud of.