I finally thawed that duck we bought circa Christmas last year. We have plenty of duck fat so a confit was a no-brainer:The 6 inch deep hotel pan was just about perfect for this…This is after 3 or 4 hours at 250. I grabbed a bone with tongs and it slipped right out. Had to have been a thigh bone because the two leg bones were still there.I had the notion that I could crisp the skin under the broiler of my toaster oven but I think a pre-heated 500 degree oven would have been the better call. The skin wanted to brown under the broiler but I could see that it was going to burn the high spots. I pulled the skillet because the veggies were done and needed to be served.We went with Brussels sprouts and teeny potatoes with prosciutto, sauteed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.The blueberry sauce was a reduction of red wine, balsamic vinegar, and the last of our blueberry syrup, with a dash of allspice and cinnamon.The rice is my favorite box mix, Zatarain’s Long Grain and Wild Rice.
Mmm… another Reuben. We’ve pretty much settled on an assembly standard: The corned beef, sliced just so, homemade sauerkraut, and cheese all warmed in a skillet – adding the cheese only when the beef and ‘kraut are warmed through. The rye slices are started in the toaster when the cheese goes on. The thousand island dressing goes in a small bowl to be used as a dip – this helps to keep the sandwich intact because it is not soaking through the toast. Pickle spear garnish is optional but encouraged!We’ve been seeing a lot of rain, 10 inches in the last week, and rivers and creeks are overflowing. Whenever we get high water one of the obligatory stops on the gawking tour is this municipal band shell at the aptly named Riverside Park. The Big Muddy River (actual name!) is a tributary of the Mighty Mississippi, it enters a few miles below Grand Tower, IL.An access road loops around the park. It would be visible below the shell but for the high water. Right now we are kinda “meh” – we’ve seen it higher. All bets are off should the rain come back. Crews are sandbagging the big levee along the Mississippi just in case and they are keeping a 24 hour watch.We’re using those naan loaves for pizzas, and here is one replacing a tortilla in a vaguely Tex-Mex hodgepodge with rice, beans, chicken, cheese, eggs, and a salsa verde.Another selfie with Bitsy that I’ve run through the Prisma app. This is using the Heisenberg filter. My favorite filter is the one they call Gothic.Time for another pineapple upside down cake! I used dark brown sugar in this one rather than the light brown I usually go with. Pour melted butter mixed with brown sugar in the bottom of a pan, this one was made in a 9-1/2″ x 12″ hotel pan with 3/4 cup of butter and 3/4 cup sugar. I drained the juice from a can of pineapple tidbits and used about half of them in the recipe. Use the pineapple juice to replace some of the water needed for a yellow cake mix and pour the prepared mix over the pineapple bits. These baked at 350 for 20 minutes and were not quite done so I added 10 minutes to the timer and reduced the temp to 325 because the top was browning nicely. If you would rather go from scratch this recipe should work fine for you.These are a favorite and this surely won’t be the last one you’ll see here. We are just getting warmed up for those summer garden tomatoes.
We saw this on one of our TV shows, the diner guy chopped a pork tenderloin into smallish pieces, put them into a small hotel pan, and started adding marinade ingredients. I scribbled them down as best I could because we had just bought a tenderloin and this looked like a great recipe: Olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. He said cover and refrigerate for a week. OK. We nearly forgot it because it was in the basement fridge but we got it out in time.I wish I had let the grill heat better but I was afraid to overcook the meat. I brushed it with garlic oil while it was on the grill and that really flared up. I did manage to get a touch of brown on there. It was really tender, and the garlic was prominent. I think the long marinade in lemon/lime juice had o lot to do with tenderizing it.I served it over a bed of wild rice with a side of Brussel sprouts and corn sauteed in duck fat.
One of the nicest things about smoked chicken leftovers is that you can use it in some absolutely killer soups. This one is easy: Take a box of rice mix – this one uses Zatarain’s Long Grain and Wild Mix, add twice the water as the directions say and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover until the rice is done, stir in some chopped broccoli and continue to simmer until the veggie is tender, add a handful of diced chicken breast, stir in a generous handful of shredded cheddar, a splash of half & half, keep stirring until the cheese is fully melted. It’s good served right away, even better if you let it rest awhile, the rice will continue to plump – reheat just before serving, careful to keep the cheese from burning on the bottom.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had requests to pull together some of my recipes that go easy on the salt. I found quite a few and this week lemon made the biggest appearance, but tonight’s featured recipes bring in a whole host of other flavors that make it easier to go lighter on the salt.
Reducing salt with out losing flavor can be managed with several steps. First of all, try to use fresh foods whenever possible. If you begin to read labels you’ll see many packaged foods contain extra fat, salt & sugar that you wouldn’t add if you prepared it fresh. And good, fresh ingredients bring their own flavors to a dish.
When you need to buy something, such as canned tomatoes or frozen vegetables, go with the no-salt version whenever possible. Then you can be in control of the sodium.
Adding flavors that enhance a dish is the key to cutting back on salt. Wine vinegars (especially on potatoes and meats), lemon juice (great for fish, vegetables and chicken), limejuice, and different spice mixes, including peppers, garlic, basil, rosemary, celery seeds, dill, toasted sesame seeds and citrus zest – go wild, try something new, you might surprise yourself – can transform a dish. You can also buy prepackaged spice mixes to shake on, just make sure to read the label looking for sodium content.
With all that in mind, I went searching through my recipes to find ones that used a dash less salt.
I started the week with Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Chicken and Spinach, recipe here.
This week’s dinner menu (pictured at top) is Cranberry Chicken and Lemon Cheese Cauliflower, click here for menu, recipes and shopping list.
JeffreyW makes a flavorful Shrimp,Ham and Kale in Garlic Lemon Sauce, recipe here.
And finally, click here for Grilled Lemon Salmon with Corn Pepper Relish.
For the pet lovers, lots of pictures of Bixby in the next Bixby Diaries installment here.
How about you, what do you use to spice up a dish? What’s on the menu this weekend?
Tonight I’m featuring a few recipes that bring in some sweet and spicy flavors. These beans and rice are a nice change-up from the standard Wash Day Beans and Rice I usually make.
Caribbean Jerk Beans & Rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup rice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- ½ green pepper, sliced
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 lb lean boneless pork, cubed in large pieces
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- salt to taste (this is a good recipe to substitute white wine vinegar for salt)
- pepper to taste
- ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 to 2 tsp Caribbean jerk spice (you can buy it or make your own, recipe below)
- ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro (Italian parsley works well in this recipe if you aren’t a fan of cilantro)
- 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or substitute dry beans, soaked and cooked)
saucepan & skillet
Add water & rice to saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Heat oil in skillet, add pork and brown on all sides for 5 minutes, add onion, celery, pepper & garlic, sauté for additional 5 minutes. Add tomatoes & spices. Let simmer 15 minutes, add cilantro, black beans and simmer additional 5 minutes, until beans are heated through. Add cooked rice & mix thoroughly.
Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons crushed dry thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Blend together and store tightly covered (I keep old spice jars around for mixtures like this)
- 8 cups shredded green cabbage
- 1-1/2 large mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
- ½ medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Combine cabbage, mangoes, bell peppers, green onions and cilantro in large bowl; stir gently to mix. Add Orange-Mango Dressing; toss gently to coat. Serve, or store in refrigerator up to 1 day.
- ½ mango, peeled, pitted and cubed
- 6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
- ¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate (not diluted with water)
- 3 tablespoons limejuice
- ½ to 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and rough chopped
- 2 tsp minced fresh ginger (substitute 1/2 tsp ground ginger if desired)
Place mango in food processor; process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients; process until smooth.
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara