Gumbo

DSC_9765 (1600x1060)Cloudy and drizzly and chilly days make it easy to stay in and cook.  Found some frozen shrimp and decided to do a gumbo.DSC_9762 (1600x1060)I started with about a half cup of flour and poured in oil until it looked like plenty.  I’ve seen cooks make a very dry looking roux but I prefer to go with it about like this because I find it easier to keep stirred.  A roux is usually defined by its color, this one is past the peanut butter stage and is well on the way to milk chocolate.  Keep the temps low and you can get by without standing over it every second but it will take longer.  This is about as dark as I care to take it but you can stay with it until it’s much darker if you want.DSC_9763 (1600x1060)You’ll want a nice stock for your gumbo.  This one has an onion, a carrot, a rib of celery, one sliced lemon, parsley, peppercorns, sliced garlic, thyme, and the shells from the shrimp.  There are about two quarts of water in it and it’ll simmer for an hour or so.

There are tons of gumbo recipes, with tomatoes and without, with okra or not, with other meats like sausage or chicken.  They all have a roux in common, and the trinity of onions, green peppers, and celery in water or stock.  Knock yourself out!

Tidbits

B7wWYKwIAAAxe7F.jpg largeI saw this photo at another site and thought right away of TaMara’s new pup.  I have no idea who this is or where it was taken but the scant info that accompanied the picture says that he is a wolf hybrid.  DSC01674This started out as an underexposed picture of a black kitty with interesting eyes.  I played around in a photo editor until there was little left except for the eyes.  I am easily amused.DSC_9759 (1600x1060)I had all those baked chicken thighs left over and a new-to-me pasta shape to try out so this dish made a lot of sense.  The sauce is the chicken in a cheese sauce made with muenster and Parmesan.  The broccoli works well in there, I think.  The pasta is trottole, which means top – the spinning toy, not this side up.  Feel free to correct me if that’s wrong in some way.DSC_5019 (1600x1060)Toby rests up atop the sofa in the front room.  That spot is a fave of all our kittehs, especially when Kitteh Momma (Mrs J) is on it.  There’s room for three or four up there but the practical limit seems to be two.DSC_5012 (1600x1060)Ginger takes his turn.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Feed a Cold

DSC_7466

I have been fighting a cold this week and all I want is orange juice and homemade soup. So, of course, that’s the theme for tonight’s recipe exchange. Soups. And there are plenty on the blog, because both JeffreyW and I love soup. Just search on soups and you’ll come up with almost 300 entries.

Here are few selections:

Cream of Chicken Soup, click here.

From Joshua D (Yutsano), Cauliflower Beer Cheese Soup, click here.

From JeffreyW, three soups:

     Vegetable Beef Soup, picture above and recipe here

     Moroccan Spicy Lamb Soup, recipe here

     Parmesan Potato Soup, with Bacon, click here

What’s cookin’ in your kitchen this weekend? What must have recipe gets you through cold season?

Hands

Tonight’s featured recipe takes very little effort, so you can have quick and easy homemade soup for a weeknight dinner or when feeling under the weather.

Tortellini Soup

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes (or equivalent fresh)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, rough chopped
  • 20 oz pkg frozen tortellini
  • 4 oz grated Parmesan

large saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan, except spinach, tortellini & Parmesan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & let simmer for 15 minutes. Add tortellini and bring to boil again, reduce heat, let simmer 10 minutes, add spinach and let simmer additional 5 minutes, until tortellini is tender. Serve with Parmesan garnish.

That’s it for this week. I’ll try and have a Bixby update later…he’s been sleeping a lot the last two days, so I’m thinking, growth spurt.  – TaMara

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Baked Lemon Chicken

DSC_9757 (1600x1060)This worked out nicely.  I saw this recipe the other day after a search prompted by one of the foodie shows on TV.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the one I saw put together on the show but it looked really good.  I made some minor changes but nothing radical.DSC_9747 (1600x1060)Dredge the chicken in seasoned flour and brown the pieces in oil.  Set them aside and wipe the pan out, add more oil and cook some sliced onions down, then add sliced lemons, sliced garlic, chicken broth, and a little lemon juice with a few sprigs of rosemary and let it come to a simmer.DSC_9746 (1600x1060)Spoon the veggies into a baking pan and lay the chicken over the top, then pour the liquids over everything and place the tray into a preheated 400 degree oven.  Baste every 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes in my oven.  I turned the chicken over for the last 15 minutes and then back again before I took this shot.DSC_9752 (1600x1060)We had pearled couscous and Brussels sprouts to go with the chicken.  The sprouts were sauteed in bacon fat with balsamic vinegar and more lemon juice.  Pretty decent dinner.DSC_9755 (1600x1060)

Bixby Diaries: Seven Months Old

Office Mate1

My office mate. This is my view while I work most days.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Bixby is 7 months old this past week. He’s 101 lbs, 31″ at his shoulders and 40″ from snout to butt. And he’s a big snuggler. He seems to be going through a crisis of size. He gets very upset when he no longer fits places he fit before – on the couch napping with me – there is just not room for two, but he tries and often ends up sleeping ON me. He wants to sit in my lap, even though no matter how he moves and adjusts, he just doesn’t fit. He usually sighs and ends up just putting his head in my lap. But you know what big puppies are great at? Hugs. He’s at the size that when I’m sitting, he can come up and put his head on my shoulder and hug me. Tail wagging the entire time.

Bixby toy box

This is his toy box. He’s sure his bone is at the bottom.

Size is also playing a role in some difficult walks. He has been throwing his weight around and just dares me to try and stop him. This means he ends up walking at ‘heel’ a lot, walking at the full length of the leash is only for puppies who don’t misbehave.

Bixby  Long's Peak

Hard to believe my puppy is so big. He’s handsome, isn’t he?

Though he is not a food motivated dog, apples being the exception, treats are helping with issues on walks. Dried apples, dried beef liver and small dog bones keep him from jumping on strangers or trying to play with every dog we meet. But once he hits his limit for being well behaved, about twenty minutes on a walk, treats have little effect.

For seven months old, though, he has amazing memory and control. And I find I have to remind myself he is ONLY seven months old when the puppy takes hold and he can’t behave. But at 101 lbs, I have little patience for behaviors that can be dangerous – pulling on ice, jumping up when he meets people, and throwing his weight around when he decides he wants to be in control. Changing those are my focus these days.

How do you slow down a rambunctious 7 month old when you want to get some photos? You tie his lead to a fence. I snapped a few nice ones. Click here to view the album.

Bixby Who me

That’s it for this edition. It’s 10 am and 60 degrees right now, so I’m off to play some tug with the puppy. He still lets me win. – TaMara

Paw print

How To Snap a Wild Puppy

Love his ears

Love his ears

How do you slow down a rambunctious 7 month old puppy when you want to get some photos? You tie his lead to a fence in a field of tall grass. It took him a few minutes of bouncing around and then he settled enough for me to get a few good shots. Luckily I have a burst function – I found a few out of the 75 I snapped. Hover on any photo for captions or click on any photo below to start the slideshow.

 

Pasta and a Sausage

DSC_9727 (1600x1060)I found some unlabeled sausages in the freezer and just assumed they were the store brand Italian sausages that I buy in bulk and repackage for freezing.  Turns out they were bratwurst.  They weren’t any worse for simmering an hour in the sauce but I did miss the nice fennel flavor I was set to enjoy.DSC01479 (1600x1060)Bonus puppeh!  Katie has made a home out of the corner in the library, with a able assist from Mrs J, of course.

Friday Recipe Exchange: California Dreamin’

Mmm, Dinner Final

I was on the run all week, so I didn’t even have time to make you hot cocoa, which was my original plan for the recipe exchange.  Instead, I went looking through the archives and found my LA diary and thought, perfect for this dreary day.

This time last year I was planning my March trip to Los Angeles, dreaming of driving up the coast and getting ready to cook up a storm.

Zuma

Since I’ve been wishing all month that I was making the trip again, I thought the least I could do was repeat the recipes from a night of cooking I did while I was out there. Nothing new here, but favorite, easy recipes – all at the request of my hosts. The menu for that evening was:

Chicken Piccata (recipe below).

Buttered Potato Pie (recipe here)

Sides and dessert

Tossed Salad with Cranberry Gorgonzola Dressing

Chocolate Walnut Flourless Cookies (one of my most requested desserts, recipe here)

Gluten Free cookies

This was the view for the evening:

LA SKYLINE 2

Dinner was basically a cooking lesson in an awesome, if underused kitchen. It fun helping others find their innner chef. What’s going on in your kitchen this weekend? Besides California Dreamin’, what are you planning to help get through the mid-winter blues?

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Chicken Piccata prep

Chicken Piccata with Herb Noodles:

Chicken Piccata

  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced into very thin slices*
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh snipped parsley
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

bowl, skillet

Combine breadcrumbs, basil, zest, and pepper in bowl. Mix ½ tbsp oil and garlic together. Coat both sides of chicken with oil/garlic and dredge in breadcrumbs. Over medium-high heat 1 tbsp ea. of butter and oil in skillet, add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken – keep warm – add lemon slices to pan, sauté 30 seconds, add water, parsley and juice, boil for 1 minute, spoon over chicken.

*Scrub well before slicing.

Herb Noodles

  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp basil, crushed
  • ½ tsp oregano, crushed
  • ½ tsp rosemary, finely crushed
  • ¼ tsp crushed garlic
  • Sesame seeds, opt

saucepan, serving dish

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Melt butter in saucepan, add spices, mixing well. Toss with noodles. For an extra touch you can add 1 tbsp of sesame seeds.

That’s it for this week. I’ll try and get a Bixby update up tomorrow. He’s 7 months old and weighs 101 lbs now, as you can imagine any spare time I have is devoted to training and entertaining him. See you next week – TaMara

Zuma 2

Fish Filet with Slaw

DSC_9720 (1600x1060)Mrs J thought it high time we had fried fish so I dug out the last of the frozen cod and thawed it this morning.  I like slaw with my fish sandwiches, this one took most of a head of cabbage, an onion, one green pepper, and a fair sized carrot.  Bobby Flay has a nice creamy slaw dressing recipe I used as a start.  Mine used Splenda in place of the sugar, and I used 4 Tbsps of malt vinegar.  I like ground white pepper for these creamy dressings.  The filets got the standard breading treatment: flour, then egg, then a seasoned corn meal, shake off excess and fry for a short time in at least 1/2 inch of 350 degree oil.  Flip once as it browns and then drain on paper towels.  I used a minor variation of my tried and true recipe for the beans.DSC01632 (1600x1200)Bonus Kitteh!  This is the Maine Coon we first saw at the tail end of last year, still a little woozy at the time from his gender “unassignment” surgery.  He was introduced into the general play group in the kitty house the other day and is fitting right in.  He’s 2 years old,  the previous owner surrendered him to a rescue operation and he came to St Francis from there.

Mmm… Stir Fry Green Beans

DSC_9715 (1600x1060)I always add the green beans to my plate whenever we hit the Chinese buffet that’s located in the same complex that holds the grocery store and the farm goods retailer.  I tell myself I’m going to make them next time I have some fresh beans but I never seem to remember.  I made a point of making them today since I was already set on stir fry.  They aren’t too hard, trim to the size you like and cook them in oil with minced garlic in whatever measure you like.  I added sliced onions to these and cooked them for three or four minutes before adding a splash of water and covering the pan.  Cook for another few minutes, add a slug of oyster sauce and toss to coat.  Cover and reduce the heat until you are ready to plate.  I cut the onions too small this time.DSC_9712 (1600x1060)The main dish was chicken and snow peas in a spicy brown sauce over rice.  Cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces and marinate in soy sauce, minced garlic, a splash of Chinese cooking wine, a few tablespoons of water or stock, a tablespoon of chili garlic paste, and a spoonful of corn starch.  I usually make additional sauce that is similar to the marinade but with more stock and a splash of oyster sauce or sugar to sweeten it a tad.  I find that if I nuke the snow peas for a minute or two in the microwave all they take is another minute in the wok, added with the extra sauce when the chicken is finished.

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