Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Oh hai there...

It's been a while. Sorry...

I have been eating, though. Different things, though, after I discovered that artificial sweeteners make my head explode. (Pink, blue, or yellow.) I haven't tempted fate now that I'm not on steady migraine meds, but I kind of want to. Anyway... let me tell you about something I've been using, and can't sing about enough.

I got a Le Chasseur dutch oven for Christmas.

Oh my. I actually want to have this DO's baby. Then I'd have saucepans, a grill pan,a nd all kinds of other stuff just for mating with a cast iron pot. I'd be down with that. I adore this pot. It gets hot, stays hot, and cleans up REALLY nicely. I've been making all kinds of things in the pot, from French Onion soup (and then remembering, "eh, I don't much care for FO soup"), to beef stew, to the little recipe I'm going to put on here- Latin Style Chicken and Rice.

Now, this may be the most caucasian version of Arroz Con Pollo ever, but it is SO good, and it can be done in a reasonable amount of time. (under 2 hours, if I'm not mistaken)

Cooks Illustrated "Arroz con Pollo"

6 cloves of garlic (minced)
Salt, Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 T white vinegar PLUS an additional 2T
4 split chicken breast, trimmed and cut in 1/2 (you can also do this with thighs. Trim the extra fat off, and know you'll need to cook them longer.)
2T oil
1 Medium onion, chopped fine
1 green pepper minced fine
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/4 cup (or more) minced cilantro
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 box chicken broth
3 cups medium grain rice
3/4 cup of chopped green olives
Lemon Wedges for serving.

I realize this looks like a lot of stuff- but believe me, it's worth it.

Mix the garlic, 1t salt, 1/2 t pepper, the oregano, and 1T vinegar into a paste. Coat the chicken with the paste and marinate 15 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 too...

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil till shimmering. Cook the onion, pepper and pepper flakes 4-8 minutes till softened. Add 2T cilantro, stir, and push veggies to the side. Add the chicken- skin side down- (you will need to increase the heat). Cook 4 minutes (thighs maybe a little less), flip, and cook 4 more minutes. Add broth (about 3 cups- reserve one for later), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. At this point, chicken breasts should be at 160. Thighs will hang out in the broth even after the rice goes in.

Breasts get removed to a waiting plate to be covered with foil. Thighs stay in. Add olives and salt to pot, stir, re-simmer, add rice, stir, simmer, cover, and pop into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Pull the pot out, stir it up, and take notice of the amount of water to crunchiness of rice. If it seems dry, add some of that reserved broth. Return to oven, bake another 10 minutes, and pull it out and stir. By this time, thighs should be 165, and can be pulled off to a plate. Check the rice- it's usually done by now too. If not, add more liquid if necessary and bake an extra 10 minutes.

Shred the chicken with spoons (large pieces is your target) and toss with a mixture of 2T vinegar, a tablespoonish of oil, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Serve it on top of the rice mixture and pass lemon wedges to serve.

Honestly, the chicken doesn't move me, but the rice? Holy heck, the rice is good. And I realize this is a fairly involved recipe- but it's going to feed 2 hungry people, PLUS give you a ton of leftovers for work. (My favorite kind of recipe.)

Next? My randomly assembled, way tasty beef soup. (Crock pot OR dutch oven).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Refrigerator Velcro Rice

This isn't so much a recipe, as a formula, I guess. Or a suggestion of a recipe. I've been eating a variation on this for a little while now- and it's tasty hot or cold.

The current incarnation is:

1 cup rice (I used medium grain- it is closer to a risotto rice, but costs an assload less.)
a dab or two of olive oil
about a quarter cup or so of red lentils
2 1/2 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
about 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
mrs. dash or whatever herb blend you love
Veggies- whatever you've got that would taste good together- this time I did a half container of baby bellas, about 3 cups of spinach, a bit of bell pepper, an onion, and a fresh tomato.

Saute your rice in a dab of olive oil as you would for risotto (until you sort of smell the rice, and a good portion of the grains are somewhat translucent) add in your red lentils, the broth, and a good portion of your dried herbs. Pop the lid on, simmer, and while that's working, cook up your veggies. I cooked the onion a little first, then added the sliced mushrooms, and the pepper and cooked it all till the mushrooms were nice and brown, then added my spinach and about 1/4 cup water, and slipped the lid on, and turned the heat off. Once the rice and lentils are tender (don't worry if there's still some liquid in the pan, it's all ok.) add in the veggies, parmesan, and toss in your diced tomato. Stir everything together to incorporate, salt and pepper it, and you're done!

IF you take this to lunch the next day, I recommend a dab of water in the container you reheat it in- keeps it from being all glue-y.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The long awaited "Boyfriend Chicken"

And yes, I modified the recipe somewhat from the original, and yes, I know that there's a boyfriend chicken recipe in existence somewhere else. It's bad, poisonous, and shouldn't be cooked. This? The recipe you really want. (And if you're fighting with your boyfriend? This is a great aggression releaser, what with the pulverizing of the croutons, and the can of whup-ass you have to unleash on the chicken breasts...)

You're gonna need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 block cream cheese (fat content of your choice, but I can't vouch for that fat free crap.)
4 oz feta cheese (crumbled-up-like)
fresh basil (if you use dried, I'll find out where you live...)
fresh spinach (buy a whole bag, make the remainder into wilted spinach and garlic)
black pepper
salt (optional)
sweet roasted red peppers, minced/chopped
1 1/4 cups pulverized croutons (bread crumbs are for pansies)
1 egg
splash of milk
a bit of prosciutto or ham, if you're so inclined

Soften your cream cheese, and mix with the feta, black pepper, and a handful of minced basil leaves. Set this aside, and beat the bejesus out of your chicken breasts, so they're about 1/4 inch thick.*

Once the chicken breasts are flat, turn them so that the ugly side is up, and layer on some spinach leaves, about 1/4 of the cheese mixture (smushing it out, but not the whole way to the edge), some of the roasted red peppers, and if you're using it- the prosciutto. Repeat this process for all of the remaining breasts, and roll 'em up. Tuck the edges in, if possible, and toothpick the living daylights out of them if necessary.

Mix up your egg and splash of milk in a bowl, and dump your pulverized croutons on a handy plate. Dip/roll your chicken breasts in the egg mixture, then roll them in the croutons, coating evenly. Place them in a sprayed baking pan and cook for about 35 minutes at 375. (till the juices run clear)

I served mine with a simple risotto and wilted spinach. Tasty, easy, and you're good to go in less than an hour. The leftovers reheat fairly well, though if you really wanted to, you could freeze them too. (I think)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Mmm. Copes Corn.

So on Saturday, when I took my little trip to tourist hell, I swung by the nifty little Amish bulk food place. It's pretty much exactly like the bulk food place at the 3 family-owned grocery stores in town, but it was close to where I was going at the time.

-side note. I love having a bulk food place handy. Dried minced onion in a little tub? 1.21. Dried minced onion in a McCormic's container? 3.50 (for less onion!)Pasta, candy, odd types of flour, snack mix, couscous, oatmeal... pretty much whatever type of dry good you'd be looking for, they've got it in nice plastic bags, or little tubs. Oh, and it's ridiculously cheap. Good deal.

Anyway. While I was there I picked up some John Copes Dried Corn (honestly, the stuff looks and sounds bizarre, but is extremely tasty), and some couscous, and a few other things I needed. And this weekend I made some tasty treats.

Saturday I whipped up the "Fastest, tastiest lunch" (For there is fast, but there is not always tasty...

2 cups (1 can) chicken broth
1 healthy (really big) pinch of Mrs. Dash
1 cup Couscous
1 bag tuna

Boil broth with seasoning, add couscous and tuna. Take off heat. let it go for 5 minutes. Eat.

And today's masterpiece... Baked Dried Corn with Ham.

A little about John Copes Corn
It's corn, alright, but it's been dried and toasted. It's super sweet, and actually very nutty. You can soak it in hot water for an hour or so, and rehydrate it- and it's good that way, or you can make Baked Corn, which is one of my mom's favorite dishes. It's kind of a corn pudding... I added the ham, "fresh" corn, and onion...

1 package dried corn 7.5 oz(you can mail order- I don't see it too many places)
5 cups milk
4 eggs, beaten
2 really good pinches of dried minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar (you can always add a pinch more as you serve)
1 ham steak, cut into cubes
1 small can of regular corn, drained
2-3 tablespoons melted butter (I didn't think it really needed it, but it's in the original recipe)
Pepper to taste

Put the dried corn bits into your blender or food processor, and whiz it a bit to break up the pieces somewhat. Don't turn it all into cornmeal, but don't leave it like giant shards of toenails either. Put the corn into a large bowl, and mix with the salt, sugar, onion, milk, well-beaten eggs, corn, butter, and cubed ham (Ok, mix it with EVERYTHING) and pour into a sprayed/buttered casserole dish (2 quarts).

The original recipe says to cook this in a shallow casserole dish at 375 for 1 hour. I ended up doing it in a taller one, and cooking it till the top was brown, and the center was set for the most part. (When you jiggle the pan it still wiggles some, but isn't all liquidy.)

It's wicked tasty...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Key Lime Lovely

Fastest. Pie. Ever.

Take one of the "2 extra servings!" pre-made graham cracker crusts from the grocery store. Unwrap it.

Turn your oven on to 350.

While the oven's heating up, zest up a few limes, and mix with 8 egg yolks. Then pour on 2 14 ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup key lime juice.

Mix the whole shebang together with a whisk (it'll take a few minutes of whisking to incorporate everything and make it nice and thick). Pour it into your crust (you'll have enough for that pie and a couple of little tarts). Bake for 15 minutes, let it cool, and top with a little whipped cream.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Stuff I love

What do I love?

John Cope's Corn I love baked dried corn, and just plain dried corn (cooked, of course). It's so damned Lancaster County, but it's really quite good. (And perfect with Chicken and waffles.)

Ben & Jerry's Pistachio Pistachio Ice Cream. I know. I'm not old enough to like Pistachio ice cream, but dagnabbit, this is good stuff. No neon green sludge, no pulverized bits of pistachio, just a nice clean pistachio ice cream with plenty of whole pistachio nuts (no shells, of course). YUM!

The super wonderful fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil sandwiches, with roasted red peppers and pesto mayo on foccacia, at work. And really, the whole cafeteria at work. A lot of people bitch about the hospital cafeteria, but frankly, I think it's got a variety of food, all of it excellently prepared, for a reasonable price. And when you've only got 1/2 hour for lunch, you can't beat it for convenience. The aforementioned sandwich? $2.79.

Flavored Seltzer- No fake sugar, no caffiene, just good stuff. I am really trying to drink less fake sugar, because it's not good for you, and this is an excellent substitute.

Thomas's Corn Toasting Bread- by the English Muffin folks. This stuff is like a nice big corn muffin, in bread form. If it only toasted up a little crisper, I'd be in breakfast-food heaven.

And the stuff I don't like:

Capers. Rather, they don't like me. A greek salad with capers today sent me from zero to migraine in about 35 minutes. (I don't think it was the feta, because feta never bugs me.)

Smirnoff Vodka. Unless I plan on turning to a life of bullimia, I'll never drink the stuff again, in any form. (Who knew you could be allergic to a specific brand?)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Holy Guack-a-noley!

Yes, I really do know how to spell. This post is in honor of Saint Stoltz-a-ma-fus, who always spouts THAT instead of "holy guacamole!". He also used to say "Wrong Chicken" and has never answered the phone with anything but "Hel-LO Steve Here!". Ever. And I've known him for 5 years. We tease him that his answering machine should simply say "Hel-lo, Steve Not here!" but he hasn't gone so far yet...

Anyway, today's recipe is Holy Guack-A-Noley, or Guacamole by the seat of your pants...

For one nice sized bowl, you'll need:

3 nice, ripe, delectable Avacados
3-4 Jalapenos (seeded/deveined or as veined as you like for the heat)
1 roma, or 1/2 big tomato
1/4 onion (Red) or more if you like
a bit of garlic, whacked up finely
1 or more limes
maybe some corn, black beans, or something else nummy to mix in...

Mince your jalapenos, onion, and tomato, if using fresh garlic, whack it up to within an inch of its life and toss that in the mix too. Then, cut your avocados in half, and scoop out their innards. (Grow the pit, or do what you'd like with it.) Smash the guts to within an inch of their lives (2 inches if you like yours chunky), while spritzing liberally with the fresh lime juice. Whip in the cilantro if you're feeling sassy, and mix the whole shebang together. Salt and pepper to your heart's content, and dig in with your favorite chippage or other guacamole delivery device.

If you're going to refrigerate this at all, be sure to smoosh plastic wrap down onto the surface of the guacamole, so that it won't turn brown so quickly. Don't try to make this a zillion hours in advance, you're just going to have nasty looking guacamole, and who wants that?