2/17/2016

Oven barbecue chicken in quick brine

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:08 pm

This is a favorite around our house.  Inspiration taken from The Pioneer Woman and Michael Ruhlman.

Several hours before you want to start cooking, make the quick brine.  In a small saucepan, combine

  • 15 ounces water
  • 3 ounces salt (type doesn’t matter)
  • a couple of big spoonfuls of brown sugar.

Bring it to a boil and make sure the salt and sugar are dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in

  • 15 ounces ice.

When all the ice is dissolved, pour solution into a gallon-sized ziplock bag and add your chicken parts.  I like to use a pack of thighs (4) and a pack of legs (5).  Let the chicken soak in the brine for 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 400F.  When your chicken is done brining, dry it thoroughly and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Spread a little peanut oil or other oil that can tolerate heat all over a half sheet pan.  Place the chicken skin-side down on the pan.  Roast for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and brush the top with your favorite barbecue sauce.  Carefully, using a spatula, slide under the chicken and flip it.  Coat the skin side with sauce.  Return to oven for 7 minutes.

Remove from oven and coat the skin side with more sauce.  Using an instant-read thermometer, check the chicken’s temperature.  If it has reached 170F for dark meat or 165F for light meat, turn on the broiler and let the sauce bubble and char a little bit.  If it needs more time, return it to the oven to reach temperature before you do the broiling.

Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

5/19/2014

Mexican Rice

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:22 pm

(The “Mexican” part here is in no way intended as a promise of authenticity.)

We had fajitas for dinner, and I neglected to pick up a flavored rice mix to go with it.  I usually get Near East brand, and Tobin loves it.  In order to not make him cry, I improvised a Mexican-inspired rice side.  He ate three plates of it.  I liked it too.

Mexican Rice

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 tsp olive oil
2 cups chicken or pork stock*
1 pinch saffron threads, crumbled
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
S&P to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium-to-large plan with a lid on medium.  Saute the rice grains until they’re opaque, coating well in the oil.  If they get a touch browned on the edges, that’s okay.  Add the stock and spices.  Stir briefly and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.  Adjust S&P before serving.

* I happened to have some pork stock in the freezer, so that’s what I used, and it was so good.  I guess it wasn’t technically stock; it was the de-fatted cooking liquid from the last time I cooked a pork shoulder.  I think I cooked it with onion, garlic, and orange juice, so those flavors informed the liquid a bit.

5/4/2014

White cake with raspberry mascarpone cream and Swiss buttercream

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:13 am

I made this cake for Denny’s mom’s (aka Nana’s) birthday.  It’s just your basic white cake, but I did it using the Cook’s Illustrated technique of baking it in a half-sheet pan and cutting in into quarters for a 4-layer rectangular cake.  In this case I’m not 100% sure it was easier than splitting two rounds, because the cake was pretty delicate.  It works well with carrot cake, because that seems a little denser and heartier than delicate white cake.  I did have a couple of fall-aparty issues, but once everything was glued together with filling and buttercream, it was good.

The raspberry mascarpone filling I just kind of improvised.  I think it was about 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, melted, that I whipped up with a tub of softened mascarpone cheese.  That turned out pretty goopy, so I chilled it until it was firmer, and then I made some lightly sweetened whipped cream and folded them together.  Tada!  It could have used some lemon juice, but I didn’t have any lemons, so here we are.

The Swiss meringue buttercream was a new adventure for me.  I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe on the recommendation of a friend, and it was really good.  The only change I made was I used salted butter instead of unsalted.  I liked it, and the people who  ate it liked it, but I think next time I would use half salted and half unsalted.  I like a little salt kick with my sweet, but this was just a little too salty.

The texture was really good.  It was thick and dense and held piping very well, but it was also really easy to spread thinly.  I was a little nervous that the recipe wasn’t going to make enough, but I managed to make a really thin crumb coat.  An hour in the fridge chilled it to a very firm state, which made the remaining frosting go on like a dream.  I even had some left over.  If I had filled the cake with the frosting, I might not have had quite enough, but I like a different filling anyway.

Here’s the frosting recipe for my records and anyone else who might be interested.

Swiss Buttercream (aka Swiss meringue buttercream), via Smitten Kitchen

1 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
26 tablespoons unsalted butter (or half salted, half unsalted), softened — that’s 3 sticks + 2 tbsp
1 tsp vanilla

Over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl, being sure not to touch the bottom of the bowl to the water.  When the egg mixture has reached 160F and you can’t feel any sugar granules between your fingers, put it in the standing mixer and mix it with the whisk attachment until it has doubled in volume and has reached room temperature, about 10 minutes.  I actually needed to let mine sit for a few minutes to cool, because it was well-whipped and I was afraid of overbeating it.

Add the vanilla and mix it up, then add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, until it’s all incorporated.  Put it on your cake.  It will be fine at room temperature for at least 24 hours.  Refrigerating it will make it really hard, so only do that for the crumb coat, and be sure to allow time for the cake to get back to room temperature before serving.

Note:  this is not a pure white frosting, due to the butter and the vanilla.  Clear vanilla would make a big difference, or you could use almond extract or another clear extract in place of vanilla.  It’s pretty white, but more of a natural white than a bleach white.

4/30/2014

Orange/almond/chocolate mini cheesecakes

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:33 pm

Last night, Tobin really, really wanted to “make a treat with sugar and stirring.”  It was exactly bedtime, so it wasn’t going to happen, but I promised him we could today.  I honestly didn’t feel like it after last week’s baking adventures (did you know that when you make a cake for a school cake walk, your children require that you make a cake for them, too?).  But I believe in keeping promises unless the promised-to conveniently forgets to ask again.  He didn’t forget.

We whipped this together out of stuff we had at home.  Orange/almond/chocolate is my current flavor combination true love, and since I’m the tallest one at home right now, I chose the specifics.  Tobin approved because it contains both sugar and stirring.

Orange/almond/chocolate mini cheesecakes

1/2 package chocolate Bunny Grahams
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) salted butter, melted
1 package (8 oz) neufchatel cheese or cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp almond extract
juice of 1 clementine

Preheat oven to 350F.

Crunch up the choco- bunnies in a food processor until they’re rendered coarse crumbs.  Add the melted butter and pulse to combine.  Press into the bottoms of the depressions in a 24 mini muffin tin.  I used this mini-tart smasher I have, and it was very convenient, but you could use your fingers, too.

Clean out the food processor, and add the cheese, egg, and sugar.  Combine until smooth.  Add whipping cream, almond extract, and clementine juice and blend a bit more.

Fill muffin cups almost to the top.  Bake for 15 minutes or until just barely set.  Cool completely before eating.

4/15/2014

Orange-Garlic Chicken

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:10 pm

I invented dinner tonight.  I bought some chicken parts at the grocery store yesterday, mostly because I wanted to make Tobin’s favorite roasted broccoli and I thought the chicken would go well with it.  I didn’t think much about what I would do with it until today.  Here’s what I did.  Denny said I should blog it because it was good, and it increases the likelihood of having it again.

If my father had blogged in my growing-up years, we might have had more repeats.  Dad made a lot of inventions, and sometimes it was a little sad, because they were often very good and we never had them again.  Not exactly, anyway.

I had a whole bunch of clementines to use up, so that’s where I got the orange juice for this recipe.  You could substitute beverage-type orange juice.

Orange-Garlic Chicken

Marinade:

Juice of 6 clementines (about 3/4 cup) + enough water to make about 2 cups
1 clementine, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped (could also use parsley if you’re a cilantro-hater, but I’m a cilantro lover and I really liked what it brought to the dish)

3-4 pounds chicken parts, bone in and skin on

Glaze:
Juice of 3 clementines (or a generous 1/3 cup)
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
a pinch of salt
pepper
1 tablespoon butter

Combine marinade ingredients in a gallon-sized ziplock bag.  Squish them around to dissolve the salt.  This would probably be easier if you use warm/hot water, but I didn’t.  Add chicken and squish it around so marinade is touching all of it.  Put the sealed bag in a big bowl in the refrigerator and leave for 6-8 hours (even overnight would probably be fine).  Flip the bag occasionally to make sure all the chicken has had equal access to marinade.

Preheat oven to 400F.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, remove it from the marinade and dry it thoroughly.  Put in a rimmed baking sheet (I used a 9×13 and it was a little crowded, so I might use a bigger pan next time).  Roast for about 30 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking, make the glaze:  melt the butter in a small saucepan and saute the garlic until it softens up.  Add the juice, salt, and pepper, and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup.

At 30 minutes, baste the chicken with the glaze.  Return to the oven and continue to cook until the light meat is 165F and the dark meat is 170F (about 45 minutes total cook time, in my case).  I basted it one more time after it came to temperature and broiled it for a minute or two to crisp up the skin.

This would also be good on the grill.

1/2/2014

Honey-Sriracha wings

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:10 pm

We were supposed to have these New Year’s Eve, and they would have been good with champagne, but things changed and we ended up having them New Year’s Day.  They were good then, too.

I know the amount of butter sounds insane, but I actually only used probably 1/4 or 1/3 of the sauce.  Next time I’ll halve the recipe and still have enough left for optional dipping.

Photo by Denny

Adapted just lightly from Damn Delicious.

2 lbs chicken wings
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp garlic powder
S&P, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.  Coat the wings in the butter and oil, then sprinkle with the dry seasonings.  Arrange on a large cookie sheet covered in foil and parchment paper.  Cook for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.  While they’re cooking, make the sauce.

Sauce:

5 tbsp butter
1 tbsp AP flour
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Sriracha (rooster sauce)
1 tbsp soy sauce
juice of 1 lime

Once the wings are cooked, remove from oven and turn on the broiler.  Brush the wings with the sauce and make sure they’re all skin-side up.  Broil for just a a couple-three minutes, watching carefully, until they get a little crisped and charred but not burned.

These are less spicy than I expected, but really tasty.  Denny mentioned that the sauce would be good on other stuff, too, like grilled chicken or roasted vegetables.

 

9/29/2013

The lazy family’s way to feel fancy

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:20 pm

Well, I’ve been neglecting this category, haven’t I?

Anyway, I have a new favorite thing.  I call it the “Going out somewhere nice is too much work with the kids, and we didn’t set up a babysitter or anything, but I still don’t feel like cooking an elaborate dinner, but let’s have something nice, okay?” dinner.  It’s vegetarian, which makes it healthy.  Yes.

  • 1 round of brie
  • 1 package of reduced fat crescent rolls in the can (I told you this was healthy)
  • Club crackers
  • sliced apples
  • grapes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 bottle dry white wine (we had this one, Angeline Sauvignon Blanc)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Open up the crescent rolls into a big rectangle and wrap up the brie (leaving the rind on is okay).  Trim away any excess crescent roll dough.  Place it on a cookie sheet (either grease it a bit or put it on parchment paper).  Brush the brie with beaten egg.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with crackers, apples, grapes, and wine.

It is so easy.  It is a way to have a snacky dinner or late lunch and feel kind of indulgent without doing hardly any work.

8/10/2013

Shrimp in Garlic Mojo

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:31 pm

This is a Rick Bayless recipe I found in this month’s Food and Wine and lightly adapted.  We had it with saffron rice, corn on the cob, and pinot grigio.

Shrimp in Garlic Mojo

Note:  Next time I’ll halve the mojo recipe.  This made much more than we needed.  It’s in the freezer now.  If the garlic oil was good and hot and I’m storing the leftovers in the freezer, I won’t get botulism, right?  Also, next time I’ll use 2 chipotles, because it could have used more spice.

1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
cloves from 2 heads garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup lime juice
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, seeded and minced
s&p

2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails still on (I used half shrimp and half chicken for the shellfishaphobic in my life)
cilantro and lime wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F.  In a small, oven-safe saucepan, combine olive oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  Place in oven and cook for about 30 minutes, or until just beginning to brown.  Add lime juice and cook for another 15 minutes until well-softened and golden.

Remove from oven and add chipotle pepper and a bit more salt and pepper, to taste.  Mash it all up until the solids are pretty much a paste.  Allow to cool slightly.

In a big skillet (I used cast iron; you may want nonstick if you don’t have a well-seasoned cast iron), add 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil.  Cook your protein until it’s done, then spoon more of the garlic mojo before serving, including plenty of the pulp.

Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges if desired.  Serve with more of the mojo for dipping/drizzling.

5/14/2013

BLT salad

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:36 am

My friend Mandy inspired the BLT salads we had for dinner last night.

It was a nice, (relatively) light main dish salad that will be even better when we have garden tomatoes.  It was made of salad greens, halved grape tomatoes (independently seasoned with s&p), thinly-sliced red onion, roughly-chopped hot bacon, boiled eggs, homemade croutons, and sunflower seeds.

I think I’m going to make more entree salads this summer.  These croutons have been a revelation.  They’re so easy and an order of magnitude better than boxed croutons.

5/1/2013

My week in food

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:04 pm

I’ve been trying some new things this week.

Monday:  Fajita quesadillas, a rip-off of something I like at a local restaurant.  I sauteed up some shrimp (for me) and chicken (for DC) in some latin rub seasoning, as well as a red bell pepper and an enormous onion, also with some of the latin seasoning.  I stuck the aforementioned into big tortillas with Mexican blend cheese (I think it was Monterrey Jack, asadero, and queso quesadilla), folded, and toasted them up.  I served them with salsa and sour cream.  Denny probably wanted guacamole, but his dream came false.

Tuesday:  Chicken Caesar salads, the chicken seasoned with cajun seasoning.  The salad was pretty pedestrian except for the croutons.  I  cubed up some “Italian peasant batard” (so Hy-Vee calls it) with butter, garlic powder, and salt, and crisped them up in the oven.  I thought I made way too much, yet somehow they all disappeared.

Wednesday:  Ribeye steaks with an exciting new broccoli treatment.  I was thinking about my old-favorite oven-roasted broccoli, but it’s warm today and I didn’t want to heat the oven up to 425F.  I found this pan-roasted broccoli, and it was really good, maybe even better.  I did change it a little–I couldn’t deal with that much butter, so I used about half the recommended amount plus a little glug of olive oil

The rest of the week is TBD.  I imagine there will be a scrounge night and a going-out night in there somewhere.

4/11/2013

What we ate

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:22 am

I haven’t posted in this category forever, I guess because I’ve mostly been rotating through old favorites and I figured I’d be duplicating.  But lately I’ve been feeling sort of in the mood for trying new things.  Maybe it’s the change of seasons.  Here’s what we’ve been eating:

Monday:

Linguine in lemon/garlic/butter/white wine with fresh gulf shrimp for me and chicken for Denny.

Tuesday:

Flank steak fajitas.  I love the spice rub blend from Cook’s Illustrated (unfortunately the site is subscription-only.  I have a cookbook I found it in.  It’s basically your warm spices:  cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, crushed red pepper, that kind of thing).  I make big batches of it and keep it around for all kinds of Latin-inspired cooking.

Wednesday:

Asian lettuce wraps, inspired by this recipe, but instead I used ground pork and also added half a pound of finely-chopped mushrooms.

Thursday:

I think I’m going to roast some chicken thighs with zucchini, red bell pepper, onions, garlic, herbs, and pine nuts.

Friday:

Leftovers, duh.

1/15/2013

Lasagne

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:44 pm

Last night I made my old favorite Pork with Grapes and Onions.

Tonight I’m getting a bit more ambitious and making this lasagne.  I have tomato sauce in the freezer (well, actually it’s simmering on the stove right now, but until recently it was in the freezer) from last summer’s tomato harvest, so I substituted that for the canned tomatoes and omitted the basil and salt, since those were already in the sauce.

There are a few unusual things about this recipe that I like:

  • Fresh mozzarella instead of aged
  • Goat cheese
  • A genius technique for noodle management that involves soaking the pasta in hot tap water.  This is so much easier than boiling an enormous pot of water for the lasagne noodles, fishing them out and burning your fingers in the process.  And yet, it yields better results than any no-boil technique or product I’ve tried.

I’m hungry already.

12/31/2012

Aioli

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:28 am

I need to blog this, because I make it often enough that I get annoyed about having to find my favorite recipe in a cookbook.  Yet somehow I don’t make it often enough to have the exact proportions memorized.  Digitization, here we come.

This makes about half a cup, which is more than we need in a sitting, but it’s as far down as I can reduce the recipe reliably.

Aioli

  • 1 egg yolk + half an egg white (just approximate)
  • a dab of dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or 1 tsp kosher salt)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (I’ve used lime too)
  • 1 large clove garlic or a couple of small ones, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil mixed with 1/4 cup mild-flavored oil (canola, peanut, whatever)

Place yolk, white, mustard, salt, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until the garlic is well-minced.  With the motor running, veeeeeeery slowly drizzle in the oil blend—just the thinnest drip.  Once you’ve got a good emulsion going, you can dribble faster, but let at least half the mixture get well emulsified before you get brave.   It should get pretty thick, and it will thicken further when refrigerated.

You can refrigerate this for a day or so, but don’t let it go much longer than that.

11/27/2012

Post Thanksgiving return to mostly whole foods

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:09 pm

After the major food-related holidays, it’s nice to do a little cleanse, even for just a couple-three weeks before the next holiday hits.  I stuffed my face full of all sorts of delicious things over the Thanksgiving weekend (my dad is a great cook and my mom is a great baker, and between the two of them, I’m a great bit logey).

Before we left, I made white chicken chili (navy beans, green chiles, onion, garlic, bay leaves, chicken stock, chicken, assorted spices including my newly beloved chipotle powder), which we munched on for a couple of days.  Now that we’re back, we’ve had tilapia with fruit salsa and this lemon-herb chicken I found on epicurious.com.  I didn’t have any fresh thyme, so I used a dried bouquet garni mix.  I served it with baked sweet potatoes and mixed veggies.

The tilapia is one of my old standards.  Denny mentioned that it’s a recipe almost as old as our relationship, because I invented it very early on.  It’s one of my most successful inventions (the short guys who live at my house notwithstanding).  I serve it with couscous and asparagus.

11/13/2012

Pecan-crusted chicken

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:10 pm

I haven’t made anything new lately, but tonight I did.  This recipe is adapted from Taste of Home magazine.

Pecan-crusted Chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 oz each—I actually horizontally sliced two enormous ones)
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Northwoods seasoning (or other seasoning blend of your choice—next time I’ll add more since the coating was a little bland)
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • olive oil and butter for frying

Combine pecans, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and seasoning blend.  Shake some cornstarch onto a plate.  Lightly but thoroughly coat the chicken cutlets.  Dunk in egg, then coat with pecan blend, pressing to help the coating adhere.  Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour.  This really helps the coating from falling off.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Heat a heavy skillet to medium.  If you have a metal rack, place it over a baking sheet.  Add a little olive oil and butter, maybe a teaspoon each, to the pan.  Let the butter melt, then add as many chicken cutlets as can comfortably fit.  You may have to do two batches.  Brown on one side, then flip (watch them carefully, as the pecans burn easily).

Once all the cutlets are browned on both sides, put on the rack and place in the oven.  Cook until a meat thermometer reads 170F.

I served this with an easy honey-mustard sauce:  a couple of blobs of honey, a couple of blobs of dijon mustard, and some sour cream, all mixed together and warmed up.  We also had a quinoa/brown rice blend and mixed vegetables.

 

11/7/2012

Almond cream cheese tart

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:15 pm

I’ve made this so many times I figured I should blog it, just in case my original source (foodandwine.com) takes it down or something.

This is super-easy and very tasty.  You can adjust it to use whatever fruit is in season, though the original calls for peaches.  Today I’m using raspberries and blueberries arranged in the Obama logo, but that’s just because I’m all excited about the election.  It may well come out stupid looking, but I’m too cheerful to care.

Almond cream cheese tart

  • 5 oz vanilla wafers
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds, roasted but unsalted
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese (reduced fat is ok)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (reduced fat is ok)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • Fruit of choice

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a food processor, combine almonds, vanilla wafers, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and salt until a coarse meal forms.  Add butter and pulse until combined.  Press crust onto the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a springform pan or tart pan with a removable bottom.  Bake for 10 minutes to set the crust.

Meanwhile, wipe out the food processor and add cream cheese, sour cream, egg, almond extract, and 1/4 cup of sugar.  Process to combine, then pour custard into hot crust.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Chill thoroughly.  Decorate with concentric circles of fruit (toss with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar if desired).

11/5/2012

Whole foods diet, mostly

Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:42 pm

What the heck did we eat last week?  I’m almost sure we ate something…

I’m having a hard time remembering the beginning of the week.  On Thursday I kicked off an attempt to eat no processed food.  This means no pasta, no bread, no white rice, no packaged crap—basically all those foods that taste good but don’t offer much for nutrition.  I’ve done pretty well with it.  I fell off the wagon both Saturday and Sunday evenings, but overall I definitely have less junk in my diet.  I’ve been eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts/seeds, meats, and some very dark chocolate with no dairy and not much sugar.

Monday and Tuesday are a distant blur.

Wednesday: We went out.  It’s very annoying when you’re trying to eat dinner and trick-or-treaters keep interrupting.  Besides, we were already downtown because Miles wanted to trick-or-treat in Denny’s office.

Thursday: Steaks, sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli.

Friday:  Rotisserie chicken (pre-rotissed), roasted red potatoes, and apples.

Tonight Denny grilled chicken, and I served it with baked beans (not totally unprocessed, but I got organic ones) and really good roasted broccoli the Internet told me about.

Tomorrow night will either be vegetable beef soup or some sort of crock pot pork situation.  I have lots of fruits and vegetables to go with it.

For Wednesday night I am very, very tentatively planning a post-election celebration dinner of linguine carbonara.  That is about a million miles away from my whole foods diet, but you’ve gotta live 80/20, man.  If my guy loses, I will be too busy crying to eat anything anyway.

10/28/2012

Food food food.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:19 pm

I’m almost sure I cooked something this week.

Let’s see…

Monday:  Flatbread with caramelized onions, Honeycrisp apples, and bleu cheese (served with salad)

Tuesday:  Chicken and cashew stir-fry.

Wednesday:  I was going to make quiche, but we had a weird spate of hot weather and I didn’t want to turn on the oven.  We ordered pizza.

Thursday:  The weather turned cold, so we had that quiche.  It included zucchini, bacon, red bell pepper, onion, and cheese.

Friday:  Leftovers.

Tobin loves quiche.  He calls it teesh.

10/18/2012

This week’s dinners

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:06 pm

This week’s dinners were comprised of two easy ones and a more complicated one.  We went out on Monday (we’d been out of town and just rolled in around dinner time) and Fridays are generally leftovers or scrounging.

Tuesday: Panini with roast beef, this cranberry chipotle cheese I found, red onion, and green pepper.

Wednesday:  Squash soup.  This was the more complicated one.  I basically followed this recipe, except I used frozen organic squash and garnished it with crumbled maple bacon.  I also made a compound butter to go on bread we ate with the soup.  The butter was made of toasted pecans and sage from the garden, all smooshed up together.  I dehydrated the sage using the oven’s convection setting, and it just crumbled into a velvety powder with almost no effort.  It was fun.

Thursday:  This was a punter—tater tot casserole.  Tobin liked it, and Miles used to like it, but he refused to try it tonight.  He even decided to give up rights to any treats tonight rather than taste a single bite.  He’s not going to do well in the dorms.

10/9/2012

Repeats

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:25 pm

I’m not feeling creative enough to cook anything new and exciting for dinner, but it is nice to get back into the hot foods rotation.  This week we’ve had black bean soup (I doubled the recipe because there are never enough leftovers with the original quantities) and a Zuni roast chicken.

This time I found myself flavoring the chicken with fresh parsley, sage, and rosemary.  I couldn’t help myself from throwing in some dried thyme, just to make it full-on Scarborough fair.  I served it with mixed veggies and roasted organic potatoes.

I try to buy organic when I can—I’d say probably 75% of our produce is organic.  Potatoes are one I haven’t traditionally bought organic, because there are so many varieties available only in conventional form.  Then I listened to the audiobook of The Botany of Desire.  Aside:  I listen to a lot of audiobooks because Miles likes me to lie with him until he falls asleep, and it gets so boring if I don’t have something to listen to.

Anyway, in that book, the author interviews a potato farmer who uses conventional chemical pesticides.  Apparently the stuff is so toxic that, in the days after applying it, the farmer won’t let any of his staff into the field.  Even if part of the irrigation system breaks and it means losing a whole section of the crop, he go out there or let anyone else do it either.  He also keeps a small organic patch of potatoes for his family.  It’s just an anecdote, I know.  There are probably a lot of potato farmers out there who are happy to eat their pesticided crops.  I’m sure I do it every time I eat a potato in a restaurant.  But it stuck with me.

So, yeah, I picked up some organic potatoes.  All they had were redskins, and I typically like Yukon Gold or similar, but they turned out tastily anyway.  I cut them into 1-inch chunks and soaked them in water for half an hour or so, then dried well, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them along with the chicken.

Back on the black bean soup, I served that with cornbread.  The cornbread I make is just a variation on the recipe from the side of the cornmeal container.  From what I understand, it’s a Northern-style cornbread; that is, it’s light-textured and sweet.  It’s good with honey butter.

Northern Cornbread

  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 400F.  Mix first six ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, then stir in wet ingredients until well-moistened, but don’t over-stir.  Bake for 25-30 minutes in a cooking-sprayed 8″ or 9″ baking dish.  I’ve also done this in an oven-proof skillet, and that’s good too.

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