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31 January 2010

Colonel Mustard In The Kitchen With ... Bread Crumbs?

Friday evening, I looked in the fridge and saw a large container (for me) of fresh bread crumbs from last week's food processing experiment, a pound of thawed boneless chicken breasts, some shredded Parmesan cheese, and a mostly-empty jar of roasted garlic mustard. Surely I could make something yummy from those ingredients? I think I did.

Mustard Chicken w/ Rice & Salad

Colonel Mustard's Chicken
  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Put a baking rack on a jelly roll pan.
  • Coat four boneless skinless chicken breasts with garlic mustard and set aside.
  • Toss fresh bread crumbs with a little melted butter, shredded Parmesan, and no-salt Italian herb blend.
  • Press chicken breasts into crumbs until thoroughly coated.
  • Place on the baking rack.
  • Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
For a recipe I made up on the fly, the chicken came out pretty well -- tender inside, crunchy outside -- and I would make it again. Maybe, with different mustards like maple-honey or basil-pesto?
28 January 2010

Crazy Day Supper

It's good to keep a stocked kitchen -- this way, on the day you decide to go crazy, you will still have something to eat. And, who knows? Maybe the simple acts of sticking a frozen lasagne in the oven and tossing a salad will make you less crazy?

Crazy Day Supper

Oh, it was a tasty salad! Much more "traditional" than the salads I usually make. With iceberg lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumber, celery, red bell peppers, shredded red leicester, chopped egg, and blue cheese dressing -- it was truly The Husband's kind of salad and (admittedly) delicious even if not very nutritious.

The lasagne? Pretty good for something out of a box. Thank you, Marie Callender.
23 January 2010

Cream Cheesy Black Bean Yumminess

Finally got around to making "Crock Pot Chicken w/ Black Beans & Cream Cheese" and it was so yummy that it completely renewed my faith in slow cookers.

Crock Pot Chicken w/ Black Beans & Cream Cheese

This recipe was dead easy -- the only modifications I made were to used thawed boneless skinless chicken breasts, low sodium corn and black beans, and light cream cheese.

(I know the recipe said to use frozen breasts but cooking frozen meat in my slow cooker just gives me the food safety heebie-jeebies).
19 January 2010

Oh, You Crumb!

Continuing with my foodie goals for 2010, I made soft bread crumbs using my food processor. I know, I know. This is something I should have been doing all along! Should have been freezing those leftover heels and crusts and making big batches of crumbs whenever I had time ....

Here's the thing: we are not toast or sandwich people. We are bagel people and there are never any bagels left to make crumbs of.

So why bread crumbs today? Whim moved me to make twee cucumber and smoked salmon tea sandwiches for lunch. Tea sandwiches, while tasty and adorable, generate a lot of trimmed crusts. As composting perfectly good crusts seemed wrong, I stuffed the crusts into my food processor and pulsed them until they looked good to me. They'll keep in the fridge until I need them for meatloaf this weekend.

Grind, Baby, Grind

For Christmas, The Mother-in-Law sent me a shiny red KitchenAid Professional 600 Series stand mixer. This was quite unexpected as I already owned a perfectly good Artisan Series mixer and, while I had occasionally made eyes at other more fancy-pants mixers, my heart lay with my little gray buddy who had so patiently chugged along through ten years of baking misadventures.

Well, my heart lay with him until I sold him for thirty-five dollars to a woman in a neighboring town. I wish them both the best and hope they get along like a house on fire.

Minus the screaming, of course.

So now there is a shiny red tart of a stand mixer flaunting her über fancypants-ness in my kitchen. And, coincidentally enough, she happened to come with the food grinder and sausage stuffer attachments. You know what this means -- soon I shall be the Kielbasa Queen.

Or I will be in the emergency room.

I've decided to ease into the whole sausage-making thing by just grinding meat for a while -- I'd been thinking about grinding meat in my food processor ever since Alton Brown made those hamburgers, anyway. Also, the more I cook, the more I want to know where my ingredients come from. The more I learn about where my ingredients come from, the more I worry. Grinding a nice chunk of locally-raised happier cow (or pig or sheep) makes me worry less.
18 January 2010

Menu Plan Monday, Week Forty-Three

An abridged Menu Plan Monday this week as it's Taste of Hartford Winter 2010 and I don't "need" to cook supper again until January 25. What is Taste of Hartford? Local restaurants set a special prixe fix menu (usually includes a choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert) for $20.10. It's a low-risk way to discover new favorites or try out some of the fancy-pants establishments!

Monday (Max Downtown)

  • Lobster bisque with caviar crème
  • Grilled veal chop with crispy polenta cake, asparagus, and port wine black pepper glaze.
  • Gingerbread & pear bread pudding with sauce anglaise

Tuesday (Peppercorn's Grille)

  • Prosciutto "Sushi Style" -- slices of imported prosciutto di Parma rolled with gorgonzola, black mission figs, and a drizzling of fig and balsamic essence
  • Costolette di Manzo Ubriaco -- slow cooked fork tender beef short ribs with a port scented red wine sauce, tiny little vegetables, and a gremolata served with potatoes and sautéed greens
  • Chocolate mousse

Wednesday (Mayor Mike's)

  • Tuscan bean soup
  • Roast chicken lasagne a la panna
  • Fried cheesecake

Thursday (work)

  • Salad with freezer apple sauce and Kashi crackers.

Friday (Hook & Ladder)

  • Soup of the day
  • Potato encrusted tilapia with broccoli & mashed potatoes
  • Toll house cookie pie

Slow Cooker Saturday (work)

Sunday

  • Having my parents up for Sunday dinner. Probably going to serve them meatloaf with mashed potatoes, peas, and salad.
And then we will all fall into a food coma and not rise again until Spring ...
13 January 2010

Pork Chops & Black Beans 3.0

This afternoon, The Husband (and one very naughty cat) finished off Sunday's pork roast. You know what that meant ... no leftover roast for stir-fry! Luckily, I had a pound of pork chops, a can of black beans, and some avocados on hand. I thought there was a recipe for chops and black beans in my old copy of The Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book and, sure enough, there was ... but it was not quite what I had in mind. Casting about on the internets, I found a recipe on the Celiac Family blog for "Pork Chops & Black Beans," which was based on the BHG recipe!

Kismet, I tell you.

I adapted the recipe a bit and ended up with ...

Chops w/ Black Beans & Avocado

Pork Chops & Black Beans 3.0

4 thick boneless pork chops, well trimmed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Penzey's Bold Taco Seasoning
1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup Green Mountain Gringo Roasted Garlic Salsa
½ cup minced cilantro
1 avocado, cubed

Sprinkle chops with taco seasoning and set aside. Heat oil in skillet. Add chops to skillet and cook until well browned (about 5 minutes each side). Add beans, salsa, cilantro to skillet. Cover and let simmer for about 8 minutes or until chops are no longer pink. Serve over rice and sprinkle with avocado.


This was sooo good. The cool creaminess of the avocado perfectly complimented the salsa's heat, the chops were tender and moist, and the beans and rice ... well, you can't go wrong with beans and rice!
11 January 2010

Oh, Baby, You Make Me Go ... "Ehh"

For Monday's supper I made "Pork Roast Crockpot Dinner" from about.com and, while everything came out well -- the roast tender and the vegetables flavorful -- I remain unimpressed. Far nicer cooked pork has come out of my oven and, really, I feel a little sorry for the excellent piece of pork I reduced to a lump of mere averageness by sticking it in my slow cooker.

Crockpot Pork Roast

I begin to suspect that, no matter what the cookbook industry may say, my slow cooker is best suited to dishes like soups, stews, and applesauce. Happily, it does those things really well, so I'll probably hold onto my slow cooker (and relevant cookbooks) a little bit longer.

Menu Plan Monday, Week Forty-Two


Slow Cooker Monday

  • Slow cooker pork roast and veggies with salad. Ingredients: boneless pork loin roast, carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic mustard, tarragon, thyme, low-sodium chicken broth.

Tuesday (work)

  • Leftover slow cooker veggies with cherries, salad, and home-made buttermilk ranch dressing.

Wednesday

  • Leftover roast pork stir-fried with vegetables over parsley-rice. Ingredients: pork, carrots, celery, onion, baby corn, straw mushrooms home-made stir-fry sauce (water, cornstarch, broth, soy sauce).

Thursday (work)

  • Leftover stir-fry and rice and freezer apple sauce.

Friday (work)

  • Pasta with salad. Ingredients: thawed ground New Boston Beef, onion, garlic, freezer tomato sauce, shredded Parmesan.

Saturday (work)

  • Mexican take-out -- fried plantains, black beans, and a grilled chicken quesadilla with guacamole and salsa.

Soupy Sunday (parents up?)

  • Beef stew with home-made biscuits and salad. Ingredients: beef, carrots, potatoes, onion, celery, thyme, garlic, bay, parsley, red wine, low-sodium broth, minute-tapioca.
08 January 2010

Comfort Food Friday

Tonight, I was supposed to make "Meatloaf" from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book, but I thought that, if we were going to eat a meatloaf that wasn't my mother's, I might as well go big and make "All-American Meatloaf" from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

Comfort Food Friday

This meatloaf turned out deliciously -- extremely moist with a fantastic texture and truly savory glaze -- and yet it was quite simple to prepare. Yes, making this meatloaf generated a lot of washing up, but it was well worth the dish-pan hands (presuming the dishwasher ever suffers from such a thing). I will definitely prepare this recipe again and again and again ...

But, I don't think I'll tell my mother about it.
07 January 2010

Kitchen Economics

Two months ago, I bought a three pound roasting chicken on sale for 99¢ per pound. Last week, I thawed and roasted it with fingerling potatoes from the farmer's market. Sunday, I scavenged the carcass for meat and turned it into a pot pie (which also used some of the leftover potatoes). Tuesday, I made soup with the last of the roast potatoes, the chicken carcass, and the frozen carcasses of two other roasted chickens. One bird, three dishes, many meals. Is that not awesome?

If I've done my math right (and this is doubtful) it is generally more economical to buy whole poultry or a large cut of meat rather than parts or ground meat ...
04 January 2010

Menu Plan Monday, Week Forty-One

What better way to reach my foodie goals for 2010 than by incorporating them into Menu Plan Monday? This week, I've started working toward Goal #9 by incorporating recipes from my own cookbook collection into my menu plan. I had also intended to trot out my slow cooker and incorporate Goal #10 into this week's menu, but Goal #6 seems more attainable, so we'll be having meatloaf on Friday instead ...

Monday

  • I have a bunch of cherry tomatoes that need using up so we'll be eating "Cherry Tomato Vodka Pasta" and salad. Ingredients: cherry tomatoes, vodka, cream, red pepper flakes, pasta, pepper, basil, Parmesan.

Tuesday (work)

  • Salad with Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar chunks, Kashi crackers, and apple sauce (from freezer).

Wednesday

  • "Baked Fish with Mushrooms" from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book (Meredith Books, 1996) with rice cooker barley and beets. Ingredients: salmon fillet, mushrooms, thyme, green onions, paprika, butter.

Thursday (work)

  • Frozen Kashi entrée (Black Bean Mango) with salad.

Friday

  • "Meatloaf" (Goal #6) also from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book with buttery parsley potatoes and peas. Ingredients: ground beef, milk, fresh bread crumbs, onion, carrots, parsley, thyme, ketchup.

Saturday (work)

  • Totally lazy shepherd's pie with salad. Ingredients: re-purposed meatloaf, leftover peas, frozen corn, fat-free beef gravy, mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese, freeze-dried chives.

Soupy Sunday (farmer's market)

  • "Shortcut Black Bean Soup with Sausage" again from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book with "Confetti Corn Bread" muffins. Ingredients: low-sodium black beans, low-sodium broth, onion, celery, garlic, coriander, red pepper, sherry, lean smoked turkey sausage, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, vegetable oil.
03 January 2010

Chicken Surprise

As last week's kale and potato soup did not go down amazingly well, I thought better of my New Year's Day menu plan and decided not to inflict "Mashed-Potato Cakes with Onions and Kale" upon The Husband. Instead, I quick-thawed the turkey breast that had been happily slow-thawing in the refrigerator ...

Except that turkey breast turned out to not to be a turkey breast at all, but a roasting chicken! Granted, it was still wrapped in a shopping bag from when I brought it home from the market months ago, but you still think I would have noticed.

Surprising Roast Chicken

Anyway, it was an awesome chicken and we ate it up. Yum. I used a recipe from Stonewall Kitchen's Harvest cookbook as my guide -- "Roast Chicken with Roasted Garlic-Herb Butter and Roasted Vegetables." As suggested in the recipe's end notes, I lined a shallow roasting pan with beautiful fingerling potatoes and put the chicken on top making the potatoes a defacto roasting rack. The potatoes needed no seasoning or lubricant of their own -- they were basted and seasoned with the chicken's juices and turned out very nicely, indeed.

The garlic-herb butter was rather fun to make, but I'm bound to like anything that involves roasting and mashing. All I did was roast garlic cloves in a little olive oil and then mash them into softened butter along with some thyme, sage, rosemary, and pepper. Dead easy and it made the chicken so delicious!

Oh, that chicken. So moist and tender that the meat actually slid off the bones. I read about that happening to other cooks, but I can count on one hand how many times it has happened to me!

Since we had some leftover chicken, I made a pot pie for Sunday's supper by modifying the "Chicken or Turkey Pie" recipe out of my mother's old copy of Miriam B. Loo's Recipe Treasury (Current, 1982):
Modified Chicken Pie

1 carrot, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, sliced thin
Water, as needed
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Thyme, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Dried parsley leaves, to taste
3 cups cooked diced chicken
1 cup sliced leftover roasted fingerling potatoes
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 refrigerated pie crust

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a saucepan, cover carrot and celery with water. Bring to boil and let simmer about 3 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Drain and sent aside.

In another saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook over medium for 2 minutes, whisking all the while. Slowly whisk in broth. Still whisking, bring to mixture to boil over medium high and let boil until thickened. Season to taste.

Add carrot-celery mixture, chicken, potatoes, and corn. Pour into a pie dish and top with pie crust. Poke holes to vent. Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
Sunday's Chicken Pot Pie

The original pie recipe called for a biscuit top, but I was pressed for time and used a refrigerated pie crust leftover from Thanksgiving. The pie came out really well and I will certainly try it with a biscuit top, next time.

This is only the second pot pie I have made since we moved and I would like to get into the habit of making them more often as they are both tasty and thrifty. Also, The Husband likes pot pies and I like The Husband ...
01 January 2010

Coming in 2010 ... Maybe

Come New Year's Day, I like to eyeball the year ahead and consider what I might like to achieve by the end of it. Goals to achieve, I tell you, not resolutions to keep. They might amount to the same thing, but my little brain doesn't think so. It likes goals. Goals are okay. A goal is, after all, just something to work toward and a little backsliding or failure along the way is to be expected. Whereas, (in my mind) a resolution is a big, heavy millstone of "shall" and "shall nots" I drag around for a year -- accumulating massive amounts of guilt as I do so ...

Goals are good.

For 2010, I decided to pick ten foodie things I'd like to try (or do better at):
  1. Add more interesting fruits and vegetables to our diet
  2. Experiment with yeast doughs

  3. Explore more kinds of sustainable, safe seafood

  4. Learn how to make sausage

  5. Make home-made yoghurt once a month

  6. Make meatloaf more often (per The Husband)

  7. Master my food processor

  8. Try cooking different kinds of whole grains in my rice cooker

  9. Use my cookbook collection more

  10. Use my slow cooker once a week

To try to meet some of these goals -- specifically, using my slow cooker and cookbook collections more -- I'm going to incorporate them into Menu Plan Monday. Also, if I schedule meatloaf, then meatloaf should start appearing at our table regularly enough to please The Husband!
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