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Friday Recipe Exchange: Feed a Cold

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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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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.

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.

Christmas Eve Dinner: The Menu

Reindeer Games

I got to meet some of Santa’s reindeer last year

I finished all my shopping today and unless I missed something, I shouldn’t have to cross the threshold of a grocery store between now and Christmas. I’ll put up photos and recipes as I go. My kitchen is painfully small and I like to spend time with my guests, so the menu is pretty simple and I can do a lot ahead of time. This makes sure we have a great meal, I can spend time with my guests and keeps my stress level lower.

On the board:

  1. Roasted Cornish Game Hens UPDATED with recipe here
  2. Smashed PotatoesUPDATED with recipe here.
  3. Cranberry Chutney UPDATED with recipe here.
  4. Spinach Salad
  5. Sundae Bar
  6. Christmas Cookies

The spinach salad works well to provide a nice, fresh vegetable without having to worry about cooking something at the last minute (so it’s fresh and not overcooked). And everyone likes spinach, so it was an easy choice.

I’ll make the Cranberry Chutney tomorrow, since it’s the type of dish that tastes better the next day. It’s a new, untried recipe and this will give me time to make regular cranberry relish if it turns out badly.

I’ll prep the hens the night before and refrigerate, then toss in the oven late afternoon on Wednesday.

The smashed potatoes have to be boiled first, so I think I will do that in the morning, refrigerate them and then do the final stage in the oven while the chickens are resting. And that’s it, dinner is served.

Look what Bixby has to look forward to, these are my three loves (3 of my 4 rescued Danes):

Christmas Dogs 2004 Shelby Einstein Duncan

I tried to get Bixby in a Santa Hat or Reindeer Antlers, but he is still too much of a puppy. I can barely get a photo of him on a normal day, he’ll have none of this “dress me up” nonsense. 90 lbs of WILL right now.

Updates as I do the prep and can get some photos. – TaMara

Christmas balls

 

Tidbits

DSC_9526 [1600x1060]We have a couple of freezers jammed full of items that may not be labeled with all the info you might wish for but usually enough if you have a good memory.  I pulled one crusted zip lock bag with “brisket” scribbled on it and the sammich here is what came of a portion of it.  I smoked a brisket some time ago and this is part of that, there may be more – I dunno.  It made a decent lunch.  On top is some ancient giardiniera that I added some olives to because of reasons.  The sauce is a new to me item from Texas Pete they are calling sriracha-cha.  Works for me.DSC01302 (1600x1200)And a puppy!  I have no info at all on this one, nor the ones to follow in this post.  I ordered a battery powered LED light so Mrs J could have a portable source she could use while at the shelter.  I mounted it on a tiny tripod meant for tabletop photography but it can be easily hand held.  Results so far are encouraging.DSC_9530 [1600x1060]I used some of that duck fat to roast these potatoes, they were pretty good but I’m sure I’ll do better the next time.  The chicken was fried in some of it as well.  The breast came pre-sliced to about 1/4″, I dusted it with seasoned flour and plopped it directly into the hot fat.  I parboiled the potatoes, then tossed them with the duck fat, rosemary, and kosher salt and roasted them on a tray in the oven.  They needed more time to brown but everything else was ready to go so I went with them as they were.DSC01301 (1600x1200)Moar puppeh!  I think the new light is bright enough to bounce off the ceiling there at the shelter.  It does have a frosted plastic diffuser mounted to soften the light, and it can be dialed down if needed.DSC_9541 [1600x1060]Mmm… brisket and egg burritos from this morning.  The last of the thawed brisket with scrambled eggs and cheese.  I like that new sauce, it has more of a cooked taste compared to basic sriracha – the brand with the rooster on the label.DSC01293 (1600x1200)One last puppy to wind this post up.  Remember to look at the shelter’s Facebook page for more info on adoptable pets and (hint hint) contribution links.

Chicken

DSC_9518 (1600x1060)Don’t ever ask me what my favorite meat is when I’m eating a nice juicy cheeseburger but at most any other time I’ll answer that with a “hmm… chicken, I guess”.  These are chicken enchiladas with jack cheese in a tomatillo sauce.  Yummy!DSC_9519 (1600x1060)I made some beans to go with them, and added a daub each of guacamole and sour cream.  I like the chips for the crunch they add.DSC_9508 (1600x1060)I ordered in a bucket of duck fat after a search turned up a source that wasn’t asking an arm and a leg for it.  I have the tub broken down into smaller containers and most of it is frozen save for about a half pound in the fridge.  I read all kinds of good things about it and am really looking forward to some turkey leg confit.  I did use a spoonful of it when I browned these thighs and really got a nice color on them.  I braised the thighs in stock and squeezed in the juice of a lemon and added capers at the finish to make a nice lemon sauce.  It was good on the steamed broccoli, too.DSC_9506 (1600x1060)The rice is a box mix that works well for me – Zatarain’s is a good brand.  I really like their wild rice mix.DSC01248 (1600x1060)… and a puppeh!  I love the expression on his little puppy face.  Mrs J says he is a chihuahua terrier mix and was adopted today.  Yay!

Friday Recipe Exchange: Braised Italian Chicken

Braised Chicken

I’m travelling this weekend, but didn’t want to leave you without a recipe exchange two weeks in a row. This is a repeat from several years ago (have we really been doing it that long?). My life is pulling me in twelve different directions right now and only a few do I have control over. That probably means between now and the big holidays, we’ll have more repeats. Once I move into my new house, I’ll be back into the cooking groove…and in a better kitchen that doesn’t make feel all stabby and want to throw things.

I have a couple of recipes that I made recently that I’ll try and put together for next week. But no promises, if next week unfolds anything like this week.

No Bixby update this week, but a few pictures of how much he’s grown, here. There is no hiding his Great Dane lineage now. BTW, in case you didn’t know it, Mrs. J works at the local shelter and JeffreyW always has lots of photos of the residents. This is a particularly cute bunch.

On to the recipes:

Chicken is our default theme tonight.

First up, Quick and Easy Barbecue Chicken, recipe here.

Grilled Lime Chicken, and additional marinade ideas, here.

JefferyW is fond of Chicken Marsala, photos and recipe here.

I’ll be out trick or treating with eight year olds tonight. What are you scaring up for the weekend? Cooking up anything good in your cauldron?

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Braised Italian Chicken

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
  • Olive oil
  • Flour
  • Dried: basil, oregano, rosemary, cayenne pepper, pepper, salt, thyme

Sauce:

  • 6-8 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini cubed
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 4-6 button mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic or equivalent
  • 1/2 cup good red wine
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes or equivalent (I use unsalted)
  • 2-15oz cans of tomato sauce (again, I use unsalted)
  • 2 tsp dried basil (or fresh equivalent)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
  • Pinch of rosemary
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 10-16 oz of favorite pasta (I like angel hair with this dish)

Bowl, Saucepan, Skillet, Baking dish or Dutch oven

In a bowl, mix together about 2 cups of flour and a good amount of the spices. Wash and dry thighs. Dredge in flour and fry in large skillet in about 1/2 cup of olive oil (I start with skin side down and do not touch it until it moves easily when I nudge it with a fork, then I flip it). When browned on both sides, remove to a plate with paper towels to drain a bit. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add diced vegetables, cook until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute, then add wine, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. Let simmer, covered, on the stovetop while chicken browns.

In baking dish, add enough sauce to come 1/2 way up the side of the baking dish. Nestle chicken in the baking dish, skin side up. Now here is the important part, ladle additional sauce AROUND the chicken as needed, but DO NOT cover the top. Leave enough room for the browned top of the chicken to remain above the sauce. This lets it braise and the skin still stay crispy. Bake, UNCOVERED, for 1 hour and 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, check to make sure the sauce is barely bubbling, if it is boiling, reduce heat to 300 degrees. Chicken is done when it gives easily, but not falling off the bone.

Leave remaining sauce on the stove to simmer on low while the chicken cooks, you’ll probably want extra for the pasta. Prepare pasta just before chicken is done.  Serve with salad or green beans and a nice deep red wine.

Prep time is a lot on this meal, so I suggest it for weekends or special guests. I also doubled the sauce and froze 1/2 for another meal.

Tonight we also get a glossary:  What is braisingWhat is deglazing?

That’s if for this week. Have a safe Halloween. Boo! – TaMara

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We Love Our Gumbo!

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I’m happy enough with how my gumbo turns out that I don’t much use a recipe anymore.  The fellow over at NOLA Cuisine always gets my nod when someone asks for recipes for these sorts of dishes, be sure to take a tour of his place – click on his recipe page for sure.

This one has genuine Louisiana made Andouille sausage and chicken thighs.  (Link goes to a Cajun Grocer’s page.)  I ordered one of their turduckens to have on hand for the upcoming holiday.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Chilly Enough for Chili

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I’m having difficulty typing this because at the moment I’m sitting on the couch with a Great Dane draped over my shoulders like Grandma’s shawl. I’m not sure why, just where he landed this morning. And…now he’s snoring. I will do my best.

Sometimes JeffreyW and I have this odd blogging-psychic link and end up cooking similar meals days apart. I knew I was going to do a chili themed recipe exchange as soon as there was a chill in the air and football/baseball/hockey were in full swing (it’s like sports Christmas). So I wasn’t terribly surprised when I opened up the blog earlier this week to see he had created a chili themed post.

Chili is one of those recipes that appears to be capable of causing intense debate, so consider the following as our entries into that debate. Then you can discuss amongst yourselves the merits of your old family recipe for chili. Beans, no beans, fritos, no fritos, vegetarian, spicy or mild. And while your are at it, what’s else is on your plate for the weekend?

The recipes:

Super easy chili, recipe here.

JeffreyW’s Chorizo Chili here.

Even this week’s Dinner menu involved chili: Kid Friendly Chili-Mac, menu and recipes here.

For some great ideas to do with your leftover chili, see Jeffrey’s photos here.

For tonight’s featured recipe, a different take on chili:

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White Chicken Chili. For JeffreyW’s version, picture above, click here.

White Chicken Chili

  • 3 lbs chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  •  3 poblano chiles, chopped
  • 3 anaheim chiles, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt and Ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 limes, minced fresh cilantro leaves and sour cream for garnish

Dutch oven, blender

In the Dutch over, heat oil and brown chicken thighs, skin side down, until the skin is crisp. Remove to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of chicken fat, heat and add chiles and onion to the Dutch oven and sauté until soft, then add the garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Remove half of the sautéed mixture to the blender.

Add 1 can of beans and the chicken broth to the blender. Puree beans and onion mixture until smooth. Add puree to the Dutch oven, along with remaining ingredients, except garnishes. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and add those to the chili and let simmer, covered, at medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and pulls easily from the bone, about 30 to 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Remove chicken to a plate and let cool enough to remove the meat from the bone and rough chop. Add the meat back to the chili and simmer until chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with fresh lime juice, cilantro and sour cream for each bowl.

That’s it for this week – hopefully I’ll have a Bixby update for you next week! – TaMara

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Lemon Garlic Sticky Chicken

DSC_9180 (1600x1060)I could have easily called it lemon garlic ginger honey sticky chicken because all of those played a role in the dish.  This started with boneless thighs and a couple of lemons and evolved from there.  I started thinking sticky chicken because I have done that and had good luck.  Mix the juice from two lemons, the zest of one lemon, a couple good squeezes of honey, grated fresh ginger root, grated garlic, some brown sugar, and a slug of soy sauce and use it as a marinade for the chicken.  I chopped the chicken into one inch pieces but it would be fine to leave them whole.  Let it marinate for an hour then array the chicken on a foil lined baking tray and let it brown in a 400 degree oven, about 30 minutes.  Turn once to brown both sides.

While the chicken is cooking, add more lemon juice, honey, and soy sauce to the remaining marinade in a small sauce pan, heat to boiling, turn down to a simmer, and thicken with a cornstarch slurry.  I added a couple tablespoons of chili garlic paste to add some zing.  When the chicken is nicely browned toss with the thickened sauce and serve over rice.  I added steamed broccoli for this dish but it can be served on the side.

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