Tuesday, December 21, 2010

holiday goodies

I've been really busy making goodies for various holiday functions lately. I haven't even had time to take pictures of everything - there were caramels and English toffee, a really cool cheese platter, and I even took a stab at making crackers, although that didn't go so well.

I did manage to get a picture of the peanut brittle I made, which came out super fantastic! It's so easy to make - it just takes a little patience.

Here are some coconut macaroons, as well. I don't put as much sugar in them as the recipe calls for because the coconut is sweet enough as it is. When they bake, they get really nicely toasty and crunchy on the outside, but stay creamy and soft inside. So yummy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

thai peanut noodles with chicken

So. Yummy!

I made a sauce of peanut butter, soy sauce, a little honey, garlic, grated fresh ginger, Sriracha (I only used a teaspoon of it because Mark can't eat really hot stuff), and chicken stock. I let it thicken a little while I cooked some linguine noodles (I couldn't find udon) in salted water. My husband insists on meat in most dinners, so I very thinly sliced some chicken breast and stir-fried it in some canola oil quickly. I drained the noodles, then tossed them with the sauce and chicken, and topped them with chopped peanuts, cilantro, green onions, and lime wedges. We squeezed the lime over the noodles and mixed it all up before eating it. It was really quick, very tasty, and relatively healthy. And, more importantly, it was something very different from what we usually have. I'll definitely make this again, especially now that I have the Sriracha hanging around in the fridge.

baked ravioli

The idea of baked ravioli, coupled with the picture of lovely toasted bubbly cheese that this recipe painted totally seduced me. I was a slathering, cheese-craving mess by the time I got done reading it. Must...make...the ravioli, I thought. So, I gave the recipe a try...and while the results were certain edible, I have to say that for the amount of work that went into making it, I feel I'd have been better off just making lasagna.

The recipe called for frozen ravioli, and basically you just parboil it, combine it with sauce, top it with cheese, and bake it. Easy-peasy, right? Yeah, if you like jarred marinara sauce...which I don't. So, I ended up making a batch of sauce to go on the ravioli and adding about 40 minutes to the whole process by the time it was all said and done. Like I said - it was tasty enough, but for probably less money and the same amount of time and effort, I could have made lasagna and probably been happier.

stuffed peppers

One of my husband's most favorite meals is stuffed peppers. They're a little bit of work, but they're worth it...and it's a good make-ahead type meal.

I try to find 4 green bell peppers that are all relatively the same height and that stand fairly level on their own. I cut the tops off, core them, and rinse out the seeds, then they go top-down in the steamer for 5 minutes to soften. I remove them and set them aside in the casserole dish I'm going to bake them in, and then work on my filling. I use ground turkey in my filling, but it would work just as well with ground pork or beef, or even no meat at all. Sometimes I also add black beans, which is yummy as well. I usually use a large can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes in the filling, as well as a can of chopped tomatoes with their juices, and I use (pre-cooked) brown rice. Everything gets mixed together: meat, tomatoes, rice, along with some oregano and thyme, salt and pepper. I spoon the mixture into the peppers, and any extra filling I have, I spoon into the pan around the peppers to help hold them up as they bake. I sprinkle either some shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese on top of the stuffed peppers, and they bake in a 400 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes. Sometimes they need a quick trip under the broiler to brown the cheese on top just before serving.

Monday, December 6, 2010

tandoori chicken and jasmine rice

Flipping through a cookbook looking for inspiration yesterday before going grocery shopping, I ran across a quite simple-sounding recipe for tandoori chicken that I found interesting enough to try.

It called for a marinade made of plain yogurt mixed with garlic, ground ginger, turmeric, salt and pepper. You mix that all together, coat the chicken with it and let it sit for a few minutes up to a few hours. The chicken then cooks in a very hot (475 degree) oven for about 30-35 minutes. During that time I made some jasmine rice to go with it, as well as the yogurt sauce the recipe suggested, which consisted of two shredded Granny Smith apples mixed with half a cup of plain yogurt, and some chopped cilantro. I couldn't find any fresh cilantro so I skipped it, and I think the yogurt sauce suffered for it. The chicken itself was nice - flavorful, very moist and just a little bit spicy. Next time I think I'll add a bit more spice to the yogurt mixture and then just make a normal raita to go with the chicken.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

soup and sandwich

It was miserably cold the other day, and my husband requested some chicken soup for dinner. What goes better with chicken noodle soup than a grilled cheese sandwich? Nothing, I say!

My favorite grilled cheese sandwich is made with whole wheat bread and swiss cheese, which is what is pictured above. I make them in a cast-iron pan and they come out lovely and crisp on the outside, creamy and cheesy inside. Bliss!

As for the soup, I don't usually put noodles in my chicken soup but Mark asked for them this time so I put some in. I have to say - ever since I started making my own soup, I cannot bring myself to eat canned soup. It's just vastly inferior. Chicken soup is ridiculously easy to make - it takes all of 10 minutes - and the finished product is exponentially better tasting than anything you can get in a can.

Here's my super-simple recipe. You can make this even easier if you use pre-cooked chicken.

Chicken Noodle Soup

32oz lower-sodium chicken stock
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large rib of celery, peeled and chopped - I like to use the celery leaves, too.
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bay leaf
1-2 handfuls of dried wide pasta noodles (not egg noodles)
black pepper to taste

Bring stock to a boil over medium-high heat while you chop the veggies and the chicken. Add veggies and chicken to hot stock and stir. Let cook on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Add noodles (start with one handful. If it doesn't look like enough, throw some more in. I like to err on the side of over-noodling), bay leaf and black pepper (I use kind of a lot because I like the kick it gives the soup, especially when I'm sick), and allow to cook at a medium boil until noodles are al dente. Fish out the bay leaf before serving.

NOTE: if you make this soup with the intention of freezing it (which I often do), do NOT put the noodles in...add them when you warm up the soup after it has been frozen, otherwise you end up with really mushy pasta in your soup, which is less than appetizing, generally.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

spiced pot roast and roasted root veggies

My husband had been lodging official complaints about the lack of meat in the last few meals, so I decided I'd make a nice Sunday roast for him.

I didn't really want to do the traditional "stick the meat in the crockpot and let it cook until it falls apart" thing with the roast. I started flipping through Epicurious recipes and ended up finding something called Boeuf à la Mode, which is apparently some old French-Canadian specialty. Anyway, it's braised beef and onions, but you use a mixture of salt, pepper and allspice for a rub on it. I didn't have any allspice, but I found several references that said I could substitute a mixture of equal parts ground cloves, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and ground black pepper. I did that, and I backed off on the salt by almost a tablespoon because I'm very salt-sensitive. I split the roast into two pieces so it would fit in the pan better, and rubbed the meat with the spice / salt / pepper mixture. I thinly sliced my last four onions (recipe called for 1 1/2 lbs of onions and I was probably somewhat short of that) and finely chopped 6 cloves of garlic. I spread half the onions and garlic in the bottom of the pan, laid the two pieces of meat on top of them, then covered the meat with the rest of the onion and garlic. I covered the pan tightly with foil and put it into a 400 degree oven. After an hour I pulled it out, opened the foil and flipped the meat, then re-covered it and put it back into the oven. It ended up cooking for just about 2 hours 15 minutes, total. The smell was amazing pretty early on, and 2 hours was kind of torturous...;)

The root veggies were Yukon Gold potatoes, garlic cloves, carrots and parsnips all chunked up and tossed with olive oil and thyme. I roasted them on a cookie sheet at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

The meat came out succulent. The onions cook down in the fat that renders from the roast, and they are absolutely divine. I could eat a huge plate just of those with some good bread! I was surprised that the combination of what I usually consider "sweet" spices melded so well with the beef, onions and garlic. I'll definitely make this again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

spinach gnocchi

I had a can of San Marzano tomatoes sitting around, and basically I was just trying to come up with a vehicle for some tomato sauce this afternoon. Having an overabundance of leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving got me thinking about gnocchi. The recipe seemed simple enough, so I figured I'd give it a whirl. I had a bag of baby spinach that needed to be used up too, so I figured I'd add it in.

In retrospect, the spinach made the process a bit harder than it likely needed to be. I squeezed all the water I thought that I could out of the cooked spinach, but it still contributed quite a lot of moisture to the dough. I found myself struggling to get enough flour into the dough to get it to hold together, but I did finally get it to a point where it worked. I'm glad I took the advice in the recipe (Mark Bittman to the rescue for the umpteenth time) and plopped a few of the gnocchi into the water to see how they cooked up before I went and rolled them and cut them all.

Once I got the dough to the right consistency, the whole process was pretty easy and had a rhythm to it that I enjoyed: roll out a rope, cut the bits off, roll off the tines of a fork, plop into the boiling water, give it a stir. By the time they were floating and ready to come out, the next batch was all cut, rolled and ready to go.

The gnocchi came out on the slightly chewy side, but I think it was because I really overworked the dough trying to get the right amount of flour into it. Even so, they had nice flavor (I put a little nutmeg in them) and went really well with the tomato sauce. The tomato sauce is just my normal formula of onions, San Marzano tomatoes, a few cloves of garlic, and some dried oregano, which is totally full of win and I would eat it on just about anything.

Monday, November 22, 2010

stuffed chicken breast

Sorry the picture is blurry...doesn't seem to be quite enough light in the kitchen to make the macro function on my camera happy and I'm generally too impatient to set up a lighting rig when there's a plate of dinner sitting there waiting for me...;)

Anyway! Tonight I made stuffed chicken breasts, buttermilk mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. The chicken was very easy: I rinsed 4 chicken breast halves and cut a pocket in each one, being careful not to cut all the way through. I stuffed the pockets with a couple tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, a tablespoon of minced red onion, a tablespoon each of fresh thyme and fresh parsley, and a quarter of a cup of finely chopped cremini mushrooms. I sprinkled the top of the chicken with some plain bread crumbs and baked them at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes.

The mashed potatoes were made with 4 medium russet potatoes that I cooked and then mashed with buttermilk (I didn't measure, but if pressed, I'd guess around half a cup), a little salt and black pepper, and a tablespoon of butter. I really like potatoes mashed with buttermilk - they taste like they have sour cream in them, but not quite as unhealthy. Well, before I added the butter in anyway...;)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

apricot ginger glazed chicken

I got this recipe from this month's Cooking Light magazine, but I tweaked it a little...somewhat on purpose, and somewhat by mistake.

The recipe called for boneless chicken thighs, but all I had were breasts so I cut them into thigh-sized pieces. I browned them in some oil till they were cooked through, then removed them and made the sauce. The sauce consisted of apricot preserves (the recipe called for ginger preserves but said a combination of apricot and grated fresh ginger could be used instead), grated ginger, chopped garlic, and soy sauce. I ended up adding a little bit of chicken stock as well. I let it reduce down to about half, then added the chicken back to the pan for a couple minutes to coat it. I served it with brown rice with scallions, and steamed snap peas. It tasted a lot like a milder General Gao's Chicken from the local Chinese joint, except not so cloyingly sweet. I'd definitely make this again, though I think next time I might serve it with bok choy or cabbage, as the peas were quite sweet on top of the sauce.

chicken parmesan

For the chicken, I took boneless skinless chicken breast halves and split them horizontally to make cutlets. I dipped them in a beaten egg and dredged them in a mixture of bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and dried oregano. They went into a 425 degree oven on a lightly oiled baking sheet and baked for about 6 minutes, then flipped over and baked for another 6 minutes. Meanwhile, I sauteed a small diced onion in about a tablespoon of butter until it was soft, then added a 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes and their juices, along with three chopped cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt and about a teaspoon of dried oregano. The sauce cooked down and thickened sightly while I cooked the spaghetti (I used a mixture of whole wheat and regular). During the last 2 minutes of the chicken cooking, I sprinkled a little bit of mozzarella cheese across the top of it and put it under the broiler to let the cheese brown. I finished the sauce off with a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley.

I served the chicken on top of the spaghetti with sauce, and a side salad of baby greens and herbs with a quick vinaigrette dressing (balsamic, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt and pepper, whisked together).

The chicken came out nicely crispy but the meat stayed moist, and the sauce was refreshingly simple and very tasty. AND, there was no frying involved!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

stuffed chicken breast with mushroom pan sauce

Sorry the picture is blurry...I thought I had a better one.

This is my second attempt at the mushroom pan sauce and this time I got something really tasty!

Stuffed Chicken Breast with Mushroom Pan Sauce

4 boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tsp dried thyme, divided
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium beef stock
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 cloves of garlic, minced fine
1 Tbsp butter (optional)
canola oil for cooking

For this, I used my large cast-iron pan because it works very well for pan-frying and braising. You could use a large heavyweight standard or nonstick pan just as well. If using a cast-iron pan, make sure you preheat it on medium heat with a tablespoon of oil in it for about 8-10 minutes before you're ready to cook.

- In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, mozzarella, 1 tsp of dried thyme, and black pepper.

- Make a horizontal slit in each piece of chicken, being careful not to cut all the way through.

- Stuff cheese mixture into the pocket of each chicken breast and press closed.

- Place chicken pieces into a preheated and oiled pan. Allow to sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.

- Once both sides of the chicken pieces are browned, pull the chicken out and set it aside momentarily.

- Deglaze pan with white wine, being sure to scrape up brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

- Add beef broth, mushrooms, garlic, and remaining thyme. Add chicken back to pan, making sure to dump in any juices that have accumulated.

- Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken breast registers about 150 degrees. Carry-over heat will ensure the chicken cooks through the rest of the way.

- When chicken is done, remove from pan. If desired, add butter and allow to melt, stirring to thicken sauce a little. If you want to skip the butter, just spoon the sauce over the chicken when you serve it.

no-fry eggplant parmesan

Using small eggplants means you don't have to salt them first if you don't have the time / inclination. I skipped the salting and had no problems with bitterness at all.

No-Fry Eggplant Parmesan

4 - 5 SMALL eggplants ( I like the Japanese kind), peeled and sliced length-wise
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box of spaghetti, prepared as per directions
4 cups prepared spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan and oregano.
- Dip each piece of eggplant in the beaten egg and then dredge in the bread crumb mixture, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Cook in 375 degree oven for approximately 5-7 minutes, then flip each piece and cook for another 5-7 minutes until golden brown on both sides and tender through.
- Remove baking sheet with eggplant from oven, but leave oven on.
- Spoon a layer of prepared spaghetti or marinara on the bottom of a 13X9 baking dish and shake dish around to coat.
- Layer into baking dish as follows: eggplant slices, mozzarella cheese, sauce, until you've used everything up, ending with a layer of cheese.
- Cook in a 375 degree oven until golden brown on top, about 10-12 minutes.
- Serve over prepared spaghetti with additional sauce, if desired.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

bangers and mash

Mmm, bangers...mmm, mash...mmm, onion gravy. What else do you honestly need to know?

Yummy. I used red potatoes this time, and didn't peel them, just mashed them with the skins on.

roasted chicken

Chickens were on sale, so I bought one and roasted 'er up:

I rubbed the skin with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. It baked at 450 for about an hour, total. It came out pretty good...nice crispy skin and moist meat:

Yes, that's boxed stuffing that I served it with. Stuffing is one of those things that I'm probably always going to be too lazy to make from scratch, and I'm ok with that.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

pork chops with mushroom pan gravy

These boneless sirloin chops were on special and looked really nice, so I snapped them up with the intention of trying to replicate my Nana's mushroom pan gravy for them tonight. What I ended up with wasn't quite Nana's pan gravy, but it was pretty tasty all the same. I worked from my treasured copy of Mark Bittmann's "How To Cook Everything" to come up with this recipe. Bittmann has yet to lead me astray in over 10 years. He might not be too pleased with me using boxed stuffing, though...;)

Note: I used boneless pork chops, which take a little less time to cook. Bone-in chops will work great for this...just let them cook 3-5 minutes longer. Also, I used white button mushrooms because that's what I had, but this would also be good with some porcinis added to the mix.

Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Gravy

4 pork chops
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp dried thyme
1-2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper

Season chops generously with salt and pepper.

Put a large pan on medium heat and allow to heat for 2-3 minutes. Add olive oil, and just when the oil starts to show wisps of smoke, carefully place chops into the pan. Turn heat to high and allow chops to brown, moving around to get good color all over, 3-4 minutes tops. You're only browning, not cooking through yet!

Turn heat to medium, add wine and garlic. Allow to cook 3-4 minutes more, until wine is nearly evaporated, flipping chops once or twice. Add mushrooms, chicken stock and thyme. Turn heat to medium-low and cover. Allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes, until chops are cooked through (about 150 degrees - meat will feel firm to the touch). If the liquid in the pan looks to be dwindling, you can add more chicken stock, wine, or even water, a 1/4 cup at a time.

When chops are cooked through, remove meat from pan and turn heat up to medium-high. Add two tablespoons of butter and stir, allowing to melt. Sprinkle flour over the sauce - start with just one tablespoon, whisking until smooth. Allow to cook down for a minute or two, to desired thickness. If you want the sauce thicker, you can add more flour, or allow it to reduce further. I prefer to just let mine reduce because I like the flavor better.

Place chops on plates, spoon sauce over, and serve. I served mine with stuffing (from a box!! Oh noes!!) and steamed fresh green beans.

Monday, October 4, 2010

ginger beef and broccoli

I'm always amazed at how the taste of ginger can fit into so many recipes - sweet, savory, hot...ginger does it all. It's one of my favorite things.

Tonight's supper was a simple stir-fry that took me all of 20 minutes, start to finish...and that was with prepping on the fly and some futzing around (because I can never just cook...I always futz, too).

I found a really nice-looking steak at the store on sale, so I scarfed it up with stir-fry in mind immediately. I cut the excess fat off the meat, then thinly sliced it on the bias to keep it tender. I put it in a bowl with about half an inch of grated ginger root, three sliced cloves of garlic, and a couple tablespoons of both toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. I added a few good shakes of Tabasco, gave it a stir, and set it aside. I chopped up two crowns of broccoli, half a white onion, and six large button mushrooms. The veggies went into a hot pan with canola oil and were tossed till almost crisp-tender. I then pushed the veggies out to the edges of the pan and dumped in the meat and all the liquid with it. I tossed everything over high heat until the meat cooked through...just about 3 minutes. I garnished it with a little sliced green onion, because I was feeling artsy.

I realized after the fact that I forgot to put brown sugar in my meat marinade, but it was still really yummy without it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

herb-crusted pork roast

I used a loin roast for this, which had very little fat on it. I cut a pocket into it, then let it sit in a salt/sugar/water brine for a couple hours. While the roast was soaking, I prepared the root veggies for roasting. I used one medium rutabaga, four medium red potatoes, two large leeks, half a bag of baby carrots, and ten cloves of garlic. I chopped everything except the garlic into 1" pieces and tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. This mixture went onto two heavy non-stick sheet pans and into a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, then the pans were rotated and cooked for another 40 minutes.

For the roast, when it was done soaking I rinsed it thoroughly in cold water and patted it dry. I stuffed it with a mixture of fresh parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Some of this mixture also got smeared on top of the roast. The roast was then topped with a mixture of a little Parmesan, olive oil, and fresh bread crumbs, along with salt and pepper, and a minced shallot. I cooked the roast at 350 degrees for a total of about 75 minutes, until it reached 150 degrees internally. I then tented the roast with foil and let it sit for 10 minutes while I steamed some fresh green beans. Once those were done, we were ready to eat!

I actually messed up the crust quite a lot. I misread the recipe and put about 4 times the Parmesan in it that I should have. It made it fairly salty, but still quite good. The brine kept the meat nicely moist through the long cooking, and the roasted root veggies came out nicely crisp and earthy-tasting. All in all, a really good Sunday dinner.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

shepherds pie

Mark has been asking for shepherds pie since the weather got cooler. This is a slightly unintentional twist on it, in that I grabbed ground veal thinking it was ground pork. It ended up being a happy accident.

Shepherds Pie

3/4 lb lean ground beef
3/4 lb ground veal
1 large well-washed leek, chopped (you can use onion instead)
2 large cloves of garlic
2 cups sweet corn (frozen works fine)
4 large russet potatoes
2/3 cup of milk
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Peel potatoes, chop roughly and place in a large pot. Cover with water and set to boil.

Meanwhile, brown the veal and ground beef with the leek (or onion). When meat is almost cooked through grate or mince the garlic and add it, stirring well. Allow to cook a couple minutes more. Once cooked through, remove from heat and drain any fat off. Spread evenly in the bottom of a casserole dish and set aside.

When potatoes are cooked through, drain thoroughly. Return to pot, add half the butter and the milk (you may need slightly more or less milk, depending on the texture you like your mashed potatoes. I don't like mine super smooth...I prefer them a little chunky, aka: Irish style...hah!) and mash. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread sweet corn over meat layer in baking dish. Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the corn. Dot with remaining butter. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, or until warmed through and top is starting to brown.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

turkey burgers, sesame green beans, and roast potatoes

I used my basic turkey burger recipe - ground turkey, some onion, a couple cloves of garlic, a little salt and black pepper, dash of cayenne, one eggs...and instead of bread crumbs, I used some going-stale scali bread torn / rubbed into crumbs. It made the burgers have a lighter texture, which I liked a lot.

The green beans are so easy, and SO yummy! I just snapped the ends off a bunch of fresh green beans and threw them into a ripping hot pan with a splash of olive oil and a splash of toasted sesame oil, as well as a handful of sesame seeds. I stir-fried them until crisp-tender (I HATE mushy green beans), and that was it.

My potatoes were simply cut-up red bliss potatoes tossed with a couple glugs of olive oil, some sea salt, and some thyme. I spread them out on a big non-stick pan and put them in a 500 degree oven for about 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. The high heat might seem excessive, but if you like your roast potatoes nice and crisp, it really is necessary.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

sunday night dinner

We stopped in at one of the local farm stands on the way home to look for something for my dad, and I ended up finding some really cute little Japanese eggplants and some lovely rainbow chard. I had no clue what I was making with them when I bought them, and I think probably in terms of cohesiveness I could have done a lot better...but everything still tasted really good, so I'm happy.

For the pork chops, I took thin-cut boneless loin chops and dosed them with thyme, black pepper, and a little garlic salt. Those went into a 450 degree oven for about 5 minutes (no, really, they were THIN) and were done. The eggplant was cut into rounds, tossed in a beaten egg, then in a mixture of flour, a little corn starch, some breadcrumbs, black pepper and cayenne. I laid them into a pan of smoking hot olive oil in batches so as not to crowd them, and flipped them when they got crispy and golden. The chard was washed, chopped roughly (including most of the stems because I like the crunch), and thrown into a hot pan with some chopped onion. I covered the pan tightly so that the water on the leaves would help to steam it and cook it through. It took about 6-7 minutes for the leaves and stems to get tender. I dressed the chard with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

I liked the chard and wouldn't change anything with it, I don't think...but I wasn't really satisfied with the eggplant. I keep making eggplant, thinking it's going to taste like something on its own, but...it kind of doesn't. I need to work on that. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spanish chicken skillet

SO yummy, and really quite healthy and inexpensive. We will definitely be having this again.

Spanish Chicken Skillet

2 tsp paprika
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (3 half breasts)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes, UNDRAINED
1/2 cup chicken broth

- Mix flour, salt, and all the spices except the crushed red pepper on a plate or wide bowl. Cut chicken breasts in half to make 6 serving-sized pieces. Dredge chicken lightly in flour and spice mixture. Reserve remainder of flour mixture!

- Cook chicken in hot oil in a large skillet on medium about 3 minutes per side, until browned. Remove chicken from skillet, set aside. Add bell pepper and onion to pan, cook and stir for about 5 minutes, until tender.

- Stir in tomatoes, broth, and remaining flour mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Stir in crushed red pepper to taste. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

- Serve chicken and sauce over brown rice. Makes 6 servings.

Friday, September 10, 2010

kielbasa kale soup

Sorry I've been gone so long! We've moved house, and are just about settled in. The kitchen is far bigger and easier to work in than my old one, so I'm very excited to get back to cooking regularly.

Tonight's effort, for your nomming pleasure:

Kielbasa Kale Soup
this was inspired by a conversation with my good friend Amy, about a kielbasa soup she threw together on the fly that turned out really well. As always, thanks Amy! :)

1 loop of kielbasa, chopped (I used McKenzie)
half of one yellow onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 large (or 2-3 small) cloves of garlic, chopped
2 big handfuls of kale, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped
6 cups of chicken stock (I use half low-sodium and half regular)
1 15-oz can of white beans
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

In a dutch oven, lightly brown kielbasa. Once browned, remove meat but leave rendered fat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook over medium heat until all is softened slightly. Add chopped garlic, cook a minute or so more. Add the kielbasa back into the pot, along with the chopped kale. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until kale softens slightly, about 2 minutes. Add a cup of chicken stock, scraping bottom of pan to deglaze. Add the rest of the chicken stock, the beans, crumbled thyme, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 15-20 minutes on low, or until kale is tender.

We had it with some nice semolina bread that I brushed with garlic and olive oil and toasted under the broiler.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Husband-requested meatloaf and onion gravy

My husband likes meat a lot. As in, when I ask him what he wants for dinner, his usual response is "some kind of meat and something to go with it". This afternoon when I asked him if he had any requests for dinner, it went like this:

me: Is there anything specific you want for dinner tonight?
him: Yes! Meatloaf!
me: ...meatloaf? Really?
him: YES! I would like meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
me: Ok. Meatloaf and mash...got it.
him: And peas!
me: Alright...and peas.
him: And onion gravy!
me: Meatloaf, mash, peas AND onion gravy. Sheesh. Ok.
him: *happy grin*

I used to HATE meatloaf as a kid (sorry Mom), so I'm always interested in trying different meatloaf recipes in an attempt to find the perfect one. I came pretty damn close tonight, and the recipe was right in my own kitchen all along! My much-loved and well-used copy of Mark Bittmann's "How To Cook Everything" had a nice simple meatloaf recipe that sounded worth a try. So...I got to work!

The recipe calls for 2 lbs of ground meat, and Bittmann suggests mixing beef with something else - veal, pork, what have you. I used a pound of nice lean ground round, and a pound of ground pork. I added breadcrumbs soaked in milk, a beaten egg, salt and pepper, some grated garlic, a smallish onion (also grated - it's way less work than mincing), and chopped parsley. The recipe called for sage, either fresh or dried. I was out of sage, which I didn't realize until I was elbow-deep in meat, so that was a bummer and I had to skip it. It also called for a minced carrot. I grated mine instead of mincing it. I mixed everything up by hand (my least favorite part) and formed it into a loaf on the rack of my broiler pan. I like cooking it this way rather than in a loaf pan because then you get a nice crust on most of the surface. A lot of what I never liked about meatloaf as a kid was the texture of it after it had cooked in a loaf pan in its own grease. Blech. Anyway - I liberally applied a layer of HP Sauce on the surface of the loaf, and popped it into the oven at 350 and cooked it for about an hour.

While the meatloaf was cooking I peeled 5 big russet potatoes and cut them into medium chunks. I boiled them till tender, then drained them and set them aside. For the gravy I thinly sliced one large white onion and cooked it down in a pan with about 2 tbsp each of olive oil and butter (hey, I didn't say it was healthy...that's why we don't have it every day or even every week). When the onions were nicely browned and softened I sprinkled 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour and a little black pepper into the pan and stirred thoroughly. I let the roux cook to a dark golden color, then added in about half a cup of beef stock and whisked vigorously. I let that cook about 30 seconds until it thickened, then added more stock and whisked again. Once it thickened up the second time I added the rest of the stock and whisked again, then turned the heat down and let the gravy bubble gently and reduce.

The potatoes were ready to mash at this point so I tossed in some butter and milk, salt and black pepper, and mashed away. I can never get them entirely smooth but I don't mind, really. Having some lumps in them reassures me that they're real potatoes, I think. ;)

The meatloaf came out of the oven just as the gravy was getting thickened up again. I put half a bag of frozen peas in a pot with 1/4 cup of water and covered, letting them steam while the meatloaf rested. When the peas were done, it was time to eat!

I don't have a gravy boat so yes, my gravy was in a Campbell's Soup cup. ;) The meatloaf was, in a word, wonderful. Really and truly. It was incredibly juicy without being greasy, and it had such good flavor. I can only imagine that having the sage would have made it even better (because I love sage). The only thing I'd change about the meatloaf recipe is that next time, I'll omit the carrot. It just didn't add to the flavor in a constructive way, I didn't think. I kept noticing it and thinking "what's that I taste? Oh, carrot again...yeah..." Other than that, this is most certainly going to be my go-to meatloaf recipe from here on out.

See how juicy? NOM! Also, this is a good shot of my gravy. I originally came up with the gravy recipe when Mark was explaining "Bangers and Mash" to me, since I'd never had it. It took a couple tries to get it right, but now that I've got it down, it's super easy (though not quick).

Mark is already looking forward to meatloaf sandwiches for lunch tomorrow! ;)

Friday, August 20, 2010

pork chops and peaches

Last night I was wandering around the grocery store, looking for something for tonight's supper. I found some really gorgeous-looking super thick-cut pork chops. SOLD! I decided I was in the mood for some "pocket" potatoes on the way home, so I stopped to pick up some red potatoes and some garlic. I found some really nice-looking peaches as well, and decided I'd try a different spin on grilled peaches for dessert. I had zucchini and a lovely beefsteak tomato from a co-worker's garden hanging around the kitchen that I figured would make good sides.

For the pork chops, I wanted to keep them as simple as possible, so I tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed garlic and rosemary, then put them on the grill. I've talked about "pocket" potatoes here before: sliced red potatoes, sliced garlic and thinly sliced onion tossed with salt, pepper and olive oil, all tossed together and sealed up in foil packets. They roast on the grill in the foil packets until done (usually about the same amount of time it takes the meat to cook). The zucchini was supposed to have some balsamic brushed on it, but I got involved in what I was doing and totally forgot! It came out rather bland and I'll try harder to remember next time...;)

The pork chops were nicely juicy and had a good sear, but they didn't really taste all that porky, if that makes sense. They were alright, don't get me wrong, but I was just dreaming of a nice porky pork chop, and these didn't quite do it. The pocket potatoes were great, the zucchini was ok, and the tomato was lovely!

For dessert, I split two nicely ripened peaches, pulled the pits out, and rubbed the cut surfaces with some thin slices of fresh ginger. I sprinkled the cut sides with brown sugar and put them on a well-oiled grill for a few minutes. When I flipped the peaches over to cook on the other side, I placed slivers of the fresh garlic in the middles where the pits had been. I generously sprinkled with more brown sugar and then shut the lid on the grill for a few minutes to give the sugar time to melt and caramelize some. Once the brown sugary was syrupy looking and a little caramelized, I pulled the peaches off the grill and served them with some whipped cream. They were far better than my first attempt at grilled peaches, though nowhere near ad decorative! I missed the balsamic reduction I made last time. I think that reduction paired with the peach with ginger and brown sugar from this iteration would be perfect. Next time!

Friday, August 13, 2010

pork chops and burgers and corn, oh my!

Sorry to have been absent for so long. We went on vacation to Indianapolis (to GenCon! Geeky!) for a week and I've been trying to recover all this week. Following are a couple of meals I've made in the past few days:

HP burgers with sauteed mushrooms and onions, and grilled corn on the cob:

My husband is Welsh, and he's obsessed with HP Sauce. I am of the opinion that it tastes like a slightly sweeter version of A-1 Steak Sauce, but he disagrees. Anyway, any time I cook meat that doesn't already have sauce or a strong flavor of its own, he puts HP Sauce on it. I decided that I'd save him the trouble with these burgers and just make them HP Sauce-infused. I mixed some HP Sauce into the meat along with salt and pepper, garlic powder and a bit of grated onion. I grilled the burgers along with some corn on the cob (I just rub it with olive oil and plonk it on the grill till it's toasty-looking), and sauteed some sliced onions and mushrooms to go atop the burgers. They came out great, though my corn wasn't the freshest and it came out kind of mealy. Normally with good fresh corn, grilling keeps it nice and juicy and tasty...but old corn is, well...old corn!

Grilled Pork Chops with Ginger Garlic Soy Glaze, served with stir-fried veggies and brown rice:

I love, love, love these. They're so easy and SO good. The marinade is just soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, brown sugar, grated garlic and grated fresh ginger root. I use boneless center-cut loin chops, and I spoon the extra marinade over the meat as it grills. I stir-fried some onion, green pepper and mushrooms to go with the meat, and I cooked up some brown rice with a bit of rice-wine vinegar in it as well. Next time I make these, I think I'm going to put the chops on the grill and dump the extra marinade in a pan to reduce down so that there's a sauce for the veggies and rice. Maybe a little tiny bit of corn-starch to tighten the sauce up...

I'm nearly ready to make them again right now, just thinking about it! ;)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

(mostly) grilled supper

Tonight, in celebration of being gifted with a second-hand gas grill, I made dinner almost entirely ON the grill. Woo!! :D

From left to right, we have sauteed kale (not done on the grill, clearly), pocket potatoes, and turkey kielbasa.

For the kale, I simply chopped up half an onion and sauteed it in olive oil, ripped up a whole bunch of kale, threw it in the ripping-hot pan (be careful...wet greens + hot oil = crackling popping hotness), turned the heat down to medium-low, added a cup of water and put a cover on it. I let it cook down, stirring every few minutes till tender. When the greens were tender, I doused it with a fair amount of red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt.

The pocket potatoes were an idea I got from a friend on a message board. I took 6 small red potatoes, sliced them, added some chopped onion and sliced garlic cloves, and tossed with salt, pepper, parsley and olive oil. I portioned the mixture out on two sheets of tin foil and crimped the edges to seal. These went on the hot grill for about 10 minutes, then flipped and cooked another 10 minutes. I opened the packets and dumped them into a serving bowl. Some of the onion and garlic stuck to the foil a little, but otherwise it worked great.

The turkey kielbasa was just split and grilled for about 3 minutes per side.

Everything was yummy and I will definitely make potatoes via the "pocket method" again soon!

Monday, July 19, 2010

grilling up a storm!

It was getting a little dark on my way home from work tonight. By the time I got the grill lit, thunder was rumbling loudly and lightning was snapping. I was on my way out load the grill up with goodies when the skies opened up!! We had sheets of rain and even hail for a good 30 minutes or so. It was intense...and the whole time, all I wanted was to get out to the grill to get my food on.

I wanted to do something different with my pork chops tonight. I came up with the following Ginger Garlic Soy Pork Chops:


4 boneless pork loin chops
1" of fresh ginger root, grated
3 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
juice of half a lemon

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, making sure that all sides of the meat get some marinade. Let the meat sit while you light the grill and let heat to medium high (about 20 minutes). When grill is ready, place chops on, brushing with more marinade if desired. I cook mine for about 4 minutes each side so that they remain just slightly pink in the middle (and don't dry out). Remove from grill and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

While I had the grill going, I figured I'd try some grilled peaches. For these, I just split a couple of peaches, put them on the hot grill and let them cook for about 7 minutes each side until soft. I served them with a scoop of ricotta cheese and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. The reduction is simply 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of balsamic, and the juice from half a lemon, all mixed and boiled until reduced down by half. The smell it made whilst cooking was amazing - sharp, sweet and rich. I ended up reducing it down a little too far and so it turned into sort of a gooey caramel type thing, but it still tasted awesome. Next time, I'd skip the ricotta in favor of some creme fraiche or even greek yogurt.

Monday, July 12, 2010

hot summer night cooking

It's been way too hot to cook inside. A friend has lent us a gas grill for a function we hosted over the weekend, so I've been using it as much as possible before it has to go back home. Tonight, it was my old favorite, turkey burgers!

I made the patties out of ground turkey, grated onion, garlic salt, paprika and a little cayenne pepper. While those were on the grill, I sliced up a couple of summer squash and put them on to steam, then made some chickpea salad out of chickpeas (duh), chopped tomato, diced red onion, and a splash each of olive oil and red wine vinegar. When the burgers were done, I quickly toasted the buns and then dosed them with barbecue sauce, sliced avocado and sliced red onion.

One of my prettier plates, if I do say so myself, and I'd happily eat this 3 nights a week...maybe 4. :)

July 4th family picnic goodies

For the big 4th of July family picnic, Nana told me I could "be creative" rather than giving me something specific to make, which was fun. I decided to make a salad and a dessert.

For the salad, I wanted something healthy but also relatively inexpensive, and of course it needed to be tasty! I had a ton of elbow pasta hanging around, so I boiled that, rinsed it and let it cool. I grated a couple cloves of garlic, chopped up some kalamata olives and seeded cukes, crumbled some feta cheese, minced a little bit of red onion, and mixed it all with some plain greek yogurt. I mixed it into the pasta, then took half a bunch of really nice swiss chard, cut the stems out, roughly chopped it and mixed it in. The chard gave it a nice tangy sweet hit to balance out the salty olives and feta and the slightly sour yogurt. Not bad for an off-the-cuff stodge.

The dessert I made was a rhubarb blueberry trifle. Again, I was trying to stay in a relatively healthy realm, so I used angelfood cake, sugar-free vanilla pudding, light Cool Whip, and I added very little sugar to my stewed rhubarb and blueberry mixture. In fact, the stewed fruit was REALLY sour straight up...nearly inedible. BUT...the combination of the fruit along with all the layers of other sweeter stuff worked absolutely perfectly. So, so yummy. And pretty!

I've not abandoned you!

I haven't run away...it's just been too hot to do more than make a sandwich and crack open a beer for supper for the last week or so. We've also been super busy, so that hasn't helped. I'll be posting more pictures soon, I promise...please bear with me...:)


Friday, July 2, 2010

thai-style beef and broccoli stir-fry

I called this thai-style because I used soy sauce, lime juice and peanuts. The beef I used was london broil, sliced thin against the grain. The only problem I had was that I let the meat cook for too long while I was chopping the peanuts, and it made it pretty tough. It was kind of a shame, because it was really nice and tender when I originally cut it. I'm wondering if the lime juice might have toughened it up some, as well.

day-off roast chicken

Crappy picture, nummy chicken. I stuffed this with a quartered onion and some fresh sage and thyme that Amy gave me from her garden. The smell was mind-numbingly good while this was cooking.

special banana bread

This is my special banana bread. It's SUPER GOOD, even if I do say so myself.

It's special because it's made with low-fat yogurt in place of most of the oil / butter. The yogurt gives it a lovely richness without all the fat. I also use graham flour in addition to regular white flour. The graham flour adds a little nuttiness to the flavor, plus it adds some fiber and gives the bread a lighter texture than if I were to use regular whole wheat flour. And yes, I cook it in a cake pan rather than loaf pans. Not only does it cook faster and more evenly, but when I'm cutting pieces out of a cake pan, I can consider it dessert and therefore not eat so much of it. Theoretically.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

pork and veg stirfry

Thanks to Amy for the inspiration on this. I was musing about what to do with thin-cut boneless pork chops and she pointed out that she usually uses them in stir-fry. I thought sounded like a great idea, and this is how it came out:

I made a quick marinade for the pork out of 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, 2 TBSP brown sugar, 1 TBSP toasted sesame oil and 3 big cloves of garlic, grated (I grate them rather than mince them...WAY easier). I sliced the pork into strips and threw it into the marinade, then sliced up a red pepper, an onion, two summer squash, and a head of broccoli. I stir-fried the meat first, then added the veggies and stir-fried until tender. I added about a cup of chicken stock with 1 TBSP of cornstarch stirred in and let it boil away for a couple minutes until thickened. It could have used some rice to soak up the sauce but we don't generally eat rice so we skipped it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

barbecue chicken burritos

I fully intended to make chicken fajitas tonight, but on the way home from work I started hankering for something different. This...is my story. (cue Law and Order bum-BUM sound)

I took 3 chicken breast halves, cut them into 3rds, and put them in a pot with water to cover. I let that simmer for about 15 minutes while I cut a green and a yellow pepper into strips and sliced an onion into strips. When the chicken was no longer pink in the middle when cut, I took it off the heat. I put the onions and peppers in a frying pan with some olive oil on medium and let them cook, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, I drained the poached chicken pieces and quickly shredded them with two forks. The shredded chicken went back into the bowl and mixed with about half a cup of Sticky Fingers BBQ Sauce (seriously, if you haven't tried it, get some. Best stuff EVER). By then my onions and peppers were softened but still fairly crisp...just the way we like them! I spread out a couple tortillas on two plates, scooped some of the barbecue chicken onto each one, sprinkled a layer of the pre-shredded cheddar-jack cheese on, and piled on a bunch of the onion and pepper mixture. I served them with a little extra barbecue sauce and some plain yogurt (rather than sour cream) for dipping.

Quick, relatively healthy, and also pretty cheap. And most importantly...YUMMY!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

broccoli chicken "carbonara"

It's not really carbonara, but it was still pretty good. It was also pretty easy and quick...and only used one pot! I boiled the linguine first and threw a bunch of broccoli florets in about 3 minutes before the pasta was done. When the pasta finished, I dumped it and the broccoli into the colander and let it drain while I did the rest. I chopped up 4 slices of bacon and cooked it down in the bottom of the pot that I cooked the pasta in. When it was crisp and the fat was all rendered, I scooped it out to drain and dumped all but 1 Tbsp of the fat. I put the pot back on the burner and tossed in 3 cut up chicken breast halves. Those cooked in the bacon fat until no longer pink (about 4 minutes), then they came out to drain while I wiped the fat out of the pot. Next, I put in a cup of chicken stock and 3 cloves of minced garlic. I let the garlic simmer in the chicken stock for about a minute while I whisked a tablespoon of flour into a cup of milk. The milk mixture went into the garlic and chicken stock and I let it simmer, whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes until it thickened up a little. To that I added the crumbled bacon, 1 Tbsp of butter, 1/2 a cup of parmesan cheese, and the chicken. It took a bit of stirring to get everything to melt and blend into sauce consistency but once it got there, I dumped the broccoli and pasta back into the pot and tossed to coat.

It was decent, though if I did it again, I would use more garlic and Parmesan, I think. It was just a little...bland.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

super quick supper: angel hair pasta with peas and bacon

Just like it says on the tin, basically. While the pasta water boiled, I cut up and cooked off the bacon, drained all but a tablespoon of the fat, then sauteed some garlic in the fat (OMG best smell EVER, just for the record), threw in two cups of frozen peas, and a cup of half and half. I let that cook down while I drained the pasta, then added the sauce to the pasta. I used a wee bit of pasta cooking water to thin the sauce as I mixed it in, then split it between the serving plates and topped with the crispy cooked bacon.

It was pretty good, though I think I'll try it with broccoli next time instead. Frozen peas always seem a little chalky to me. All in all, it was a nice quick cheap supper, though.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

beef bulgogi

Flipping through one of my cookbooks this afternoon, I came across a recipe for Beef Bulgogi. A light turned on in my head and I remembered the beef bulgogi I had at a little Korean place several times during pilgrimages to Northampton, MA, with friends. It looked so simple. I HAD to try it.

The recipe called for rib eye steak. I used chuck instead because it was WAY cheaper and because I like the taste of it better. I used two big red onions, a green pepper, and I made a marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. The meat and veggies both sit in the marinade (separately!) for 20 min or so, then you stir-fry and serve either with rice or in lettuce "cups". Easy peasy...and I'm telling you, SO GOOD!! The sesame oil combined with the fat in the beef creates an amazing nutty buttery-ness. I just wanted to keep eating it and eating it. And really, aside from the fact that it's red meat, it's actually really healthy. It was a little too juicy to be easily eaten just wrapped in the lettuce, but I can tweak it a little to fix that. This could be my new favorite quick week-night dinner. I don't think I can sell Mark on kimchi to go with it, though...;)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

brownie night at my house!

I had a bunch of baking chocolate and cocoa I wanted to use up, because letting them sit on the shelf all summer long doesn't do them any favors. I decided that brownies were the way to go.

To use up the cocoa I made Alton Brown's brownie recipe, which starts with beating the bejeezis out of 4 eggs, then adding both white and brown sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and a whole lot of melted butter. They're good, but not quite as fudgey as I'd have liked. I used cake flour, and I think that might have had something to do with it.

The second batch I made was to use up the baking chocolate. I decided to do mint brownies, because both my husband and my mom really like mint and I figured that was a good way to get rid of them so that I wouldn't eat them...;) This recipe was basically the same in the brownie part, except it called for melted chocolate mixed into the beaten eggs, rather than cocoa...and it had less sugar by about half! The fun part was the layer of minty frosting (made from butter, powdered sugar, milk, and mint extract). The frosting was spread on the mostly-cooled brownies, then the pan was put in the fridge for an hour to firm up. The final layer was unsweetened chocolate melted with butter, left to cool a little, then spread across the top of the minty layer and allowed to set in the fridge. I really liked this recipe. The unsweetened chocolate on top helped cut the sweetness of the mint frosting, and the cake flour didn't seem to make these brownies as crumbly as the other ones.

Friday, June 11, 2010

buttermilk baked chicken with carrot cumin slaw

Another simple and yummy chicken supper. I took chicken thighs and drumsticks and dipped them in cultured buttermilk mixed with salt, pepper, and some Tabasco...then dredged them in breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan and a dried Herbs de Provence mixture. I put the chicken on an oiled baking sheet and cooked at 425 for about 40 minutes, until nicely golden and crispy.

The slaw is made of one quarter of a head of cabbage and 3 shredded carrots, and one medium bunch of parsley, chopped. It's dressed very simply with olive oil, the juice of one lime, a little bit of salt, and 1/2 tsp of ground cumin. I was kind of if iffy about the slaw while I was making it, but I really liked it a lot and I'll definitely make it again. The chicken was great. The skin was nicely crispy, and the buttermilk keeps the meat moist while it's in the oven.

chicken parmigiana

Very simple and so yummy! I took boneless chicken breasts, split them horizontally to make cutlets, dipped them in a beaten egg and dredged them in some bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese. I pan-fried them in some olive oil in my cast iron pan, then put them on paper towels to drain. For the sauce, I used two 28-oz cans of diced tomatoes, a chopped onion, a chopped green pepper, and several cloves of chopped garlic. I sauteed it all for 10 min or so, then spread it in the bottom of a shallow baking dish, put the pieces of chicken on top, topped it with slices of mozzarella cheese, and stuck it under the broiler. While that was broiling, I cooked some linguine and drained it. When the cheese on the chicken was melted and brown, I took it out of the oven and scooped sauce and chicken onto the pasta. Ta-da! NOM!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

greek-ish pizza

I've been hankering for some more eggplant since the batch I did on the grill a couple weeks ago. I found a description in a cooking magazine for a "quickest dinner ever" idea that amounted to eggplant slices, olives and goat cheese on a pre-cooked pizza crust. I'm not a fan of pre-cooked crusts...they always come out rubbery and cardboard-tasting, but the idea of the pizza sounded awesome so I figured I'd try it.

I used a really gorgeous eggplant I got at the farmer's market on Sunday. It was perfect...deep purple, and so shiny I could see my reflection in it when I picked it up. The blurb that I originally read didn't mention anything about salting the eggplant and letting it drain, but I've learned that lesson the hard way, so I did it anyway. I only let it sit about 20 minutes, but it was enough. I pressed out my pizza crust onto two oiled pans and brushed them with olive oil. I rinsed and dried the eggplant, cut the slices up and distributed them onto the crusts along with some kalamata olives and quartered cherry tomatoes. I cut up a small log of goat cheese into chunks and spread them over the top of the pizzas, then topped them both with some judicious sprinkles of dried oregano. They went into a 450 degree oven for about 18 minutes, and this was the result:

It was SO. GOOD. Seriously. I'd happily eat this 3 times a week. Next time I'll cut the eggplant a little thinner, but otherwise I wouldn't change a thing. My husband, however, commented that while it tasted nice it "lacked a certain je ne sais...MEAT!" I wonder if a little seasoned ground lamb cooked up and sprinkled on top would go well with the Greek vibe and fill the meat void for him. Hmmm.