Category Archives: Fun with Food

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 is 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.

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)

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.

Moar Tacos!

DSC_9710 (1600x1060)Because we had some beef leftover from the cheesesteak-baguette project and I hate hate hate throwing good food  out.  I added some taco seasonings to the beef and recycled it through these tacos.  There was plenty of toppings left from the chicken tacos the other day.  I have a smear of beans under the beef – everything else: just as pictured.  The dark crumbs atop it all are a Tex-Mex seasoning blend I’ve touted here before.

Tidbits

DSC_9673 (1600x1060)I busted the rest of those biscuits out of their can because I was really wanting biscuits and gravy. It’s not the best gravy but I had some leftover from a pork chop dish. I had a few of those homemade Andouille sausages to use up and it seemed a great time to fry a couple of eggs.  The five pepper jelly works great on a hot biscuit.DSC01526 (1600x1200)There was a litter of Great Pyrenees/German Shepherd Dog mixes dropped off the other day at St Francis, this is a female.  She is 6 or 7 weeks old here.DSC_9707 (1600x1060)Cheesesteak!  I tried my hand at baking baguettes the other day but without much success.  This is as close a picture of one as I’m going to post. Let’s just say that 500 degrees for 12 minutes then turn to 400 for 20 minutes more will not be the method in future attempts.  The birds made short work of the rest it.DSC01512 (1600x1200)Here is a brother to the puppy in the picture above.  A little more of the GSD shows in his color.  There are 5 of these and they are all spoken for.DSC_9706 (1600x1060)Tacos!  I like to fry the flour tortillas when I make tacos with them.  Put a 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet and heat it to almost smoking and plop one in.  It will only take a few seconds if the oil is really hot, flip it over for a few more seconds and then lay it on paper towels to drain.  They will tend to puff up but you can press the bubbles down in the pan and after it’s out but be quick and flatten them while they are still hot.  I fold them in half right away, too, so they don’t break.  These have grilled chicken on a smear of refried beans.  I have sliced green peppers, fresh jalapenos, onions, shredded cheese, sour cream, and a hot sauce for a finish.DSC01494 (1600x1200)Moar puppehs!  These are a dachshund/terrier mix and they are just the cutest things.  Aww…  There are 6 total, the others are different colors.  They are 8 weeks old.

Mmm… Pizza!

DSC_9692 (1600x1060)Mrs J called for pizza and because it’s been a while since we had a white pizza, this broccoli/chicken/roasted garlic pie was just perfect.  I rolled some string cheese into the edge of it and made a sauce from Monterey jack and a basic white sauce.  I added two heads of roasted garlic to the sauce and troweled it on then added the par-boiled broccoli and the grilled chicken breast.  Brush some olive oil on the crust and add a good sprinkling of kosher salt.  It spent about 17 minutes in a 350 oven while in the pizza pan but still wasn’t quite there.  I managed to get it out of the pan and onto a peel without mishap for transfer to the pizza stone that pretty much lives on the bottom rack on my oven.  I kicked the dial up to 500 and kept an eye on it, giving it an additional 5-7 minutes.DSC_9696 (1600x1060)A cheese crust seems like overkill, given the cheesy nature of the sauce but I find myself eating the crusts apart from the rest of the pizza, saving them for the last.  They eat like a big soft pretzel – a cheese stuffed pretzel.DSC_9700 (1600x1060)I placed the uneaten slices back into the pan for flash freezing in the big box.  When they’re frozen solid I’ll vacuum seal the slices, they make great lunches for Mrs J to haul with her to the shelter on her volunteer days.

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