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Lo Mein Pr0n – with Chicken and Shrimp

DSC_8166 (1600x1060)Wikipedia tells me that “lo mein” translates from the Cantonese to “stirred noodles”.  This dish had chicken breast chunks and shrimp with broccoli, onions, and carrots along with rehydrated mushrooms that I bought dried.  I’ve learned to simmer them for at least an hour before they are anywhere near tender enough to eat, and don’t try to save the stems.  I simmered these with the dried cayenne peppers, and used the broth from that in making the brown sauce.  I ran across a good discussion of brown sauces here.  Mine has dark soy, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, chicken paste in that mushroom stock, a little chili paste, tamari, and a lot of garlic.  I sweeten ours with Splenda but sugar is more common.

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Mmm… Soup

DSC_8081 (1600x1060)I swear I didn’t see that bay leaf in there.  I actually had it in my mouth and had to take it out.  Nothing special about the veggies or the broth but I did use a different noodle this time:DSC_8089 (1600x1060)The package has several little noodle bundles, each just about right for a single serving.  I boiled two of them separate from the broth and then drained them and plopped them into the bottom of the bowl before adding the soup proper.  It does solve the problem of noodles disintegrating when saved as leftovers.  Tomorrow or the next day it will be a snap to boil a serving of needles, takes five minutes, and the serving size won’t be a problem.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner

Corned Beef by JeffreyW

Corned Beef by JeffreyW

Well look at that, it’s Friday and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have already begun. I think that means we’ll revisit last year’s recipes, because I was at the store yesterday and briskets were half priced and I bought two, a tip and a flat. I’ll be doing the slow-cooker method first. Then I’ll think about grilling or pressure cooking the other. Corned beef is really one of the perfect foods to do in a pressure cooker. You get a nice, tender beef and instead of mushy, colorless vegetables, you get perfectly cooked vegetables infused with that great corned beef broth flavor.

Tonight’s featured recipe uses a bit of dill pickle juice in place of some of the water and a touch of spicy brown mustard. But I saw recipes that used chicken broth, sherry or beer in place of some of the water. I think you should experiment and use what sounds good to you. I really  like dill pickle juice. And I have become a big fan of Napa cabbage with my corned beef.

A lot of recipes call for 3-4 lbs of corned beef. When I was shopping, 4 lbs was the smallest piece I could find, most were 5-6 lbs. You may have to cut a piece in half, but since both the pressure cooker and slow-cooker recipes are easy, you don’t need to save corned beef and cabbage for a special occasion. Just freeze the other half for another day.

And the best part of a corned beef and cabbage dinner? Making Reuben’s with the leftovers. My mom makes the best ones, but I one up her by grilling mine Panini-style. Yum.

Are you a corned beef and cabbage household? Reuben fans? What other recipes do you have for the leftovers? Any good hash recipes? Doing anything special to celebrate your Irish (adopted or otherwise) heritage this weekend?

Now for the recipes:

JeffreyW tackles corned beef  leftovers – see his gallery of Corned Beef Sandwiches here. (lots of yummy pictures at those links)

My family weighs in on their favorite ways to fix corned beef, including grilling. (click here)

And, in case you missed it, my vacation plans now include cooking lessons in exchange for a nice place to stay: Have Frying Pan, Will Travel.

Now tonight’s featured recipes:

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef Dinner:

  • 3 to 4 lbs corned beef, trim the fat to about 1/4 inch
  • Water
  • Spices included with corned beef or the following: 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds,
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed – opt
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 – 6  medium to large potatoes, cut into four to eight pieces, peeling optional
  • 4-6 carrots, sliced in half and cut into 2” lengths
  • Cabbage, cut into 4 to 6 pieces

pressure cooker and cooking rack

Remove the corned beef from the brine (discarding the brine), rinse thoroughly and place in the bottom of the pressure cooker, fatty side up. [You don’t really want to brown this beef, because it’s been brined.] Sprinkle spices over the top of the beef. Add enough liquid (water or water and a combination of ONE of the following: pickle juice, chicken broth, beer or wine) to come to the top of beef, about 3-4 cups usually.  Cover and bring to pressure and let cook for 1 hour. I use the cold water method to depressurize (that is when you run cold water over the pan in the sink, otherwise you can remove it from the heat and let slowly depressurize).

The key to getting the perfect corned beef and vegetables with the pressure cooker is to cook them separately. Prep the vegetables during the last 15 or so minutes of beef cooking time. Once the beef is done, put it on a cutting board, cover loosely in foil and put a towel over the whole deal.

Remove all but enough liquid to come to the bottom of the cooking rack when placed in the pressure cooker. Place potatoes first on the tray, then carrots and then cabbage, cover and bring to pressure. Cook for about 12 minutes. The vegetables will be fork tender, not mushy and the beef will be fully rested. Slice, plate and serve.

For the slow-cooker:

Place rinsed beef in the bottom of the slow-cooker, sprinkle spices, add liquid to come to the top of the beef,  and cover. Cook on low for 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark, add potatoes and then carrots. Cook additional 4 hours, adding the cabbage during the last 30 minutes. With the exception of adding the vegetables, try to resist the temptation to open the lid. You need it to stay covered to properly cook. Let the meat rest, covered with foil for about 15 minutes before carving.

There you go, some easy ways to put together a nice corned beef dinner.

Interestingly last year there seemed to be a green cabbage shortage. I went to three different grocery stores and they were completely sold out. I didn’t want to use red cabbage because I don’t really like it. I decided to use Napa cabbage and really liked it, much more than green cabbage, it’s sweeter and has a more delicate flavor and now it is my cabbage of choice.

Enjoy your weekend and watch out for leprechauns… – TaMara

Mmm… Roast Beef

DSC_7930 (1600x1060)Mrs J grabbed a big roast at the store the other day and we went with the crockpot to cook it.  She was wanting a basic pot roast supper and that is what she got.  I did tweak the menu a tad and made her mash her own potatoes but she didn’t mind.  The roast nearly filled the crockpot but I squeezed in carrots, onions, and celery and filled the rest of the space with beef broth and red wine.  I didn’t have any fresh herbs so dried thyme and bay leaves went in for seasonings, along with black pepper and salt, natch.DSC_7933 (1600x1060)There was still plenty of meat and gravy left so I added a few more veggies and broth for the next day’s stew.  I still have a fair sized lump of beef, I may slice it for sammiches before the day is out.  Speaking of that, it may reach above 70 degrees here today, which should melt the last traces of snow.  Just in time for more snow tomorrow!  Ahhhh!

Dinner Menu: Valentine’s Day Dishes

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, I thought it was a good time to repeat my annual holiday menu. I prefer this to going out to a crowded restaurant. Easy to fix, but looks and tastes quite elegant. From 2010:

JeffreyW shoots a cornish game hen, served with broccoli and rice

JeffreyW shoots a cornish game hen, served with broccoli and rice

Every year around this time, one of my local grocers offers Cornish Game Hens in packages where they are cut in half. I decided I needed to do something with this idea, so the Valentine’s menu was born. When they are cut in half, it reduced cooking time enough for the recipe to be workable on a week night. Since Valentine’s falls on a Sunday this year, using whole game hens seems reasonable, too. Longer cooking time, but worth it. In case you’re feeling really ambitious, click here for JeffreyW’s wonderful stuffing recipe.  And if you’re looking for a more elegant dessert for Valentine’s Day try this recipe for Raspberry-Chocolate Cupcakes in Raspberry Sauce.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cornish Game Hens w/Stuffing
  2. Buttered Peas and Carrots
  3. Tossed Salad
  4. Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Cornish game hen

Cornish Game Hens

  • 2 pkgs. stuffing mix
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ cup boiling water or chicken broth
  • 4 Cornish game hens, cut in half *
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp crushed rosemary
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

9×13 glass baking dish

Add stuffing mix, 2 tbsp melted butter and boiling water to baking dish, stir & spread evenly over bottom of baking dish. Lay hens cut side down over stuffing (it’s a tight fit, but you should be able to get all 8 halves in the 13×9 pan). Melt remaining butter, add spices and mix well. Brush some over hens and continue to baste every 10-15 minutes while baking. Bake at 350 to 375° until internal temperature is 175 ° about 45 minutes. Remove, cover loosely with foil and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 4

*Hens will have to thawed completely and you’ll need a sharp knife to cut them in half. You can check with your butcher to see if they’ll cut them for you. If you don’t want to cut them in half, cook them whole and allow 1 hour 10 minutes cooking time.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Preheat oven to 375°

  • ¾ cup chunky peanut butter
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 13-16 oz bag Hershey’s Kisses

2 bowls and baking sheet

Combine peanut butter, butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in bowl. Beat with mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add egg, beat until blended. In small bowl, combine flour, salt & soda. Add to creamed mixture at low-speed until just blended (don’t over mix). Scrape sides and bottom and make sure all flour is mixed. Drop by heaping teaspoon full onto baking sheet, unwrap kisses and press 1 into each cookie. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove to racks and cool.

Shopping List:

  • 2 pkgs. stuffing mix
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4 Cornish game hens, cut in half if possible
  • chunky peanut butter
  • 1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 13-16 oz bag Hershey’s Kisses
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz bag frozen peas and carrots
  • Tossed salad ingredients

Also: rosemary, sage, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, milk, flour, baking soda, chicken broth

Mmm… Chicken Pot Pie

DSC_7670 (1600x1060)I promised Mrs J a chicken pot pie if she would make the crusts.   Mmm… pie!DSC_7675 (1600x1060)

Cream of Chicken Soup, Now with Recipe

Cream of Chicken Soup2

I have a pot of this simmering on the stove as I write this. I wanted to make it a second time to see if I could make the recipe a bit simpler. Really couldn’t, so I wrote it as I went, to make sure I didn’t miss a step. I really like this soup, it has a very rich flavor, like chicken and biscuits. Mmmm….

Because I have a vita-mix,  most of the soups I make start with a thick vegetable broth. It gives a great depth of flavor. It’s chocked full of nutrients and anyone who knows me well, knows I don’t eat enough vegetables, so I do what I can to up my daily veggies. But you may not want to go to that trouble, so you can substitute 4 cups of chicken broth for the vegetable broth in the recipe below.

Cream of Chicken Soup

  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 2 stalks celery (with leaves), rough chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, rough chopped
  • 1 cup cut green beans (I use frozen)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 chicken breasts (bone-in or boneless, doesn’t matter it will be shredded)

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  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk

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  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

saucepan, dutch oven or large saucepan, blender

In the blender, add rough chopped carrots, celery and green beans, spices, 2 cups of water and blend until smooth. Add to dutch oven along with chicken breasts and 2 additional cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool. Add diced carrots, celery, salt and pepper to the liquid and cover. Cook until vegetables are tender crisp.

While the chicken is cooking, melt butter in the saucepan, add onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Whisk in flour and cook about 2 minutes or more. Turn the heat up to medium-high, slowly stir in milk and bring to a low boil, whisking until thickened. Reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally.

While the vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken. The easiest way to do this is to use two forks and pull across the grain of the meat in different directions. You can then use your fingers to break apart any large pieces.

Once the vegetables are tender crisp, whisk in the white sauce and then stir in the chicken. Cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve with parsley garnish.

Makes about 6 cups.

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Turkey Soup

DSC_7646 (1600x1060)It was pretty cold overnight, down into the teens.  We got a bare dusting of snow but that will go away today.  Strong south wind and warming temps today, we have made it into the 40s but there is a chance for sprinkles later.  Soup sounded pretty good.  This one has the turkey and some baby carrots along with a wild rice mix from Zatarain.  They make good rice mixes and we really like the wild/long grain rice mix they sell.  It’s been absent from the local market so we ordered a case online.

Dinner Menu: Coconut Shrimp, Cucumber Sea Salad and Ice Cream

Winding our way to Thanksgiving I thought something as far away from holiday food would be good this week. This light menu, highlighting tropical flavors, should help you forget about holiday prep and cold fall days.

The shrimp is a bit of a different recipe, instead of traditional coconut shrimp which is fried in a coconut batter, this one is simmered in a coconut milk sauce. I like Jasmine rice and if you haven’t tried it, now is your chance, it’s a great side with this shrimp. I actually use a nice brown Jasmine rice that fluffs up almost as well as its white counterpart. And of course, vanilla ice cream is only a suggestion here, it won’t ruin the entire menu if you go all wild and choose something like mango.

On the board tonight:

  1. Shrimp in Coconut Milk
  2. Jasmine Rice
  3. Cucumber Sea Salad
  4. Crushed Pineapple & Coconut over Vanilla Ice Cream

Shrimp in Coconut Milk

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 4-6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 8 oz sliced frozen carrots
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp, de-veined
  • 14 oz coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tequila (opt)
  • 1 tbsp limejuice
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut

wok or skillet

Heat oil, sauté onions, pepper, carrots, garlic until tender (2-3 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes. Serve immediately over rice. Garnish with coconut.

Cucumber Sea Salad

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz crab meat
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 oz frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

Combine cucumber, crab, & celery into bowl. Mix vinegar and apple juice concentrate, pour over mixture and refrigerate until served.

Shopping list:

  • 8 oz crushed pineapple
  • 1 qt premium vanilla ice cream (or other favorite)
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 4-6 green onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 8 oz sliced frozen carrots
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp, de-veined
  • 14 oz coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tequila (opt)
  • Fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Cilantro
  • 2 oz shredded coconut
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 oz crab meat
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 oz frozen apple juice concentrate

Also: peanut oil or vegetable oil, crushed garlic, ginger powder, limejuice, brown sugar,

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Lo Mein Double Delight

DSC_7261 (1600x1060)Much the same as yesterday’s dinner.  Same noodles and sauces with shrimp as well as chicken.  Veggies were a little different, tonight we had snow peas, carrots, fresh shiitakes, and bean sprouts.  I included a half teaspoon of chili garlic paste to this one but that wasn’t enough for Mrs J to mind.

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