Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas

So, Sparky gave all of us (Nic, Kym & I) the new 2012 Americas Test Kitchen cookbook for Christmas. I like watching this show on PBS because they test recipes with different ingredients, times, processes, etc. to come up the best way to make a dish.Kym first made a Kale and Potatoe soup, which I also did, and didn't turn out bad. Next, Nic made rice using a recipe in the book and she reports that it was very easy and good rice that wasn't the usual sticky type. Kym also made an Indian dish, which she and hubby loved.

Tonight, I made chicken enchiladas and they were delicious . . . although it took me longer than expect. (Someday I'll learn to read the whole recipe before beginning.) It has japenos chiles that gave it a little pep, which Sparky loved.

Earlier today, and after church, I also made an easy bean dip following the recipe on the back of the Mission Tortilla Strips package. It also is pretty good. Here's the recipe:

Black Bean & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

1 package (1 oz.) taco spices and seasonings

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 package (12 oz.) light cream cheese

1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

1 to 2 tsp. lime juice

Garnishes: chopped tomato and fresh cilantro

In food processor combine all ingredients except garnishes; mix thoroughly. Serve with chips or raw vegies.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chicken Dijon

Many decades ago (yes, a long time ago; can I be that old?) my sister-in-law gave me the Colorado Cache Cookbook by the Junior League of Denver. We had been over to see my brother's family in Boulder and she had made a great little recipe. When I exclaimed about it, she later sent me the cookbook. Being a Junior League cookbook, it's recipes are generally simple and made with common ingredients. (Our copy has been put to great use of the years, and it's showing.)

Well, one of our family's favorite entree recipes from the book has always been Chicken Dijon. So last week I decide to take a break from the soup thing and make it. Unfortunately, the weekend got away from me, and so I held the ingredients (except chicken) until today.
In the past we never had enough sauce for the family, but with just Sparky and I we had extra tonight.

Since I am developing an eye issue Sparky and I are trying to eat more green things, in the hopes of delaying the future. So we also had fresh steamed spinach. I'm always surprised how a big bunch of spinach cooks down into a little serving. Some fresh-out-of-the-oven Rhodes rolls topped off a great, little dinner.

To meet blogging protocol, here's the recipe:

Chicken Dijon

3 Tbs butter
4 chicken breasts, split, skinned and boned (I only cooked 1 breast split)
2 Tbs flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup light cream (1/2 & 1/2)
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
2 Tbs minced fresh parsley

Melt butter in large skillet. Add chicken breasts and cook until done and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken to warm serving platter. Stir flour into drippings in the skillet and cook 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and light cream. Stir and cook until the sauce thickens and bubbles. Stir in the mustard. Return the chicken to the skillet, cover and heat for 10 minutes. Garnish with tomatoes and sprinkle with parsley.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

Way back then Wart gave me a cookbook from Cook's Illustrated titled "The Best 30-Minute Recipe." I haven't done a lot with it other than make a great Italian soup called Pasta e Fagioli.

Although the book touts making the recipes in 30 minutes, it usually takes me an hour. (I'm not that good of a cook.)
As you see below, the recipe is pretty basic in the ingredients it calls for. The only thing I had to buy at the store was the bacon. (I've now divided up the package and froze the remaining bacon in 3 zip-locks for future needs.)

An inside joke: I was throwing everything together and read "add carrots." What carrots!? A quick review of the ingredients called for two carrots, luckily I had a couple left over from last week's broccoli soup recipe from Lion House. Silly me. Someday I'll read the entire recipe before I begin.

It was pretty cold tonight coming home from work after running a few errands and this soup, like all soups in winter, hit the spot in my little belly.

Not to be too healthy, afterwards I brought out the vanilla bean ice cream. But with a guilty conscience I added blueberries for the anti-oxidants.

Pasta e Fagioli

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. minced fresh oregano, or ½ tsp. dried
Salt and ground black pepper
4 slices, bacon, chopped fine
1 onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, chopped fine
½ cup small pasta (ditalini, orzo, or stellini, etc.
1 cup frozen cut green beans
Grated Parmesan cheese

Making the Minutes Count:
Mince the onion while the bacon cooks. Chop the carrot while the onion cooks

1. Heat broth mixture: Bring broth, beans, tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, and ½ tsp. salt to boil, covered, in large saucepan and set aside
2. Cook bacon and onion: Meanwhile, cook bacon in large saucepan over medium-high heat until fat is partially rendered, about 2 minutes. Stir in onion and ¼ tsp. salt and cook until softened and slightly browned, about 8 minutes.
3. Add garlic, broth mixture, carrots, and pasta: Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth mixture, carrots, and pasta. Bring to simmer and cook until carrots and pasta are tender, 9 to 11 minutes.
4. Add green beans and season: Stir in green beans and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Off heat, remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Served, passing grated Parmesan separately.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Soup, Again??

Last week Wart emailed belatedly asking for my Lion House recipe for Hearty Beef Stew; she and Ben wanted to have it Sunday for a friend coming from Utah. Unfortunately, I didn't get the email until early Sunday morning; too late to type the recipe and get it to them for that afternoon. (That'll teach her for emailing and not calling.)

Then, last week, much to my surprise, Macy's had chuck roast on sale. So what the heck, we'll have stew for the coming cold on Monday.
With daylight savings time ending "it is the longest day of the year," said Sparky. So I got up, cut up the roast into small bite sizes, and started the stew cooking. (It was also Fast Sunday, which added 45 minutes to the morning . . . no breakfast.)

Sunday morning was beautiful. The sky was blue; the fall leaves are red and yellow, timp was shining bright with its new layer of fresh snow, and Sparky said, "I'm going for a walk, wanna come?" Heck Yes! My momma didn't raise no dummy.

So, in between the walk, church and meetings I made stew. The recipe (per blogging protocol) is below, but I also added lentils and frozen peas. Plus I added extra potatoes and water. Surprising I was also able to retrieve the garlic on toothpicks, and with the spirit of "waste not, want not" I smashed them with a knife on the cutting board and threw them back into the pot.

I think every time I make this stew it seems like the type of soup pioneers would have made and kept warm on the back burner ready for Pa when he came in from the fields. :) As I did, you can just about throw in anything you have on hand.

One thing I don't know is what pot Wart was going to use to cook the stew, since she has my old set of aluminum cookware and I kept the 5 quart dutch oven. Oh well, that's her problem.

Hearty Beef Stew
2 pounds beef chuck, cut in cubes
2 Tbl shortening
4 cups water
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic (I used 2)
1 Tbl salt
1 Tbl lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (extra doesn't hurt)
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
Dash of allspice
6 carrots, cut in quarters
½ pound small white onions
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I did 5)
¼ cup flour

In heavy Dutch oven, slowly brown beef cubes in shortening. Turn often to brown meat on all sides. This should take about 15 minutes. Then add water, onion, garlic (on toothpick so you can retrieve it), salt, lemon juice, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, paprika, bay leaves and allspice. Cover with lid and simmer on low heat (do not boil) for 2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

When meat is almost done, add carrots, onions, and potatoes, and simmer for 30 minutes more. Discard bay leaf and garlic. Pour ½ cup water in shaker and add ¼ cup flour; shake to blend. Either remove meat and vegetables from stock or move to one side in pan; stir in flour mixture. Cook and stir till gravy thickens and boils. Makes 8 servings.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Broccoli Soup

We're on a roll; the fag's in the kitchen again. And my fourth posting in less than two weeks? I'm a posting addict!

With Sparky on high-marathon days at work, I have taken some extra time in the kitchen. So last night it was Broccoli-cheese soup.

I've been holding some ingredients in the fridge for a while hoping that they didn't go bad before I took the time to make this soup. I've had the recipe for about a year; I don't remember where I got it from. It was alright; probably not my favorite. A little more work with less quantity of food. I'm also not a fan of Sharp cheddar cheese called for in the recipe. It's also cream based so Sparky will probably not be eating it. :(

One of my favorite things about cooking is using my stove. (Yes, it's mine! When we remodeled a few years ago, Sparky got the oven and fridge, and I got my gas stove.) It has so much heat control. When this recipe called for simmering the roux for 20 minutes I turned the stove to simmer and there it held the temperature just below a boil. (It's also handy keeping dishes hot but not burning waiting for Sparky.)

I guess I'm supposed to post the recipe here, but I can't find it on my hard drive, and I don't feel like re-typing it. So, too bad, so sad.


For years I've tried to grow herbs in the yard with minimal success. I always thought they should be planted on the south side of the house so that I could possibly enjoy a longer season with them. I would carefully till the soil, adding peat moss and manure in an attempt to get a decent crop. I remember last year going to the Farmers Market in Provo and seeing Ziploc bags of herbs ready for purchase in early June and then think, "Crap I don't even have my herbs planted, and these guys are selling it." But after going to the nursery and buying stock, planting them, my luck was not that good. As this picture shows, my success, especially this year, was poor.

As you can see the Basil (front) and parsley (back) didn't do so well in between the chives (right) and spearmint (left) two herbs that can't be killed with gasoline.

But early this spring I pulled some Lavender plants from the east side of the house making room for my herb garden. I went to the nursery and purchased Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Chives and Basil starts. As you can see here the results were significantly better.

The plants did very well. My next issue was that we don't do a lot of cooking in the summer with yard work, biking, blading and other activities. So what to do with herbs when Mother Nature does her thing and freezes the hell out of everything; especially on the northeast side of the house were my new herb spread was set.

I decided I would try and dry the Basil and keep it through the winter to be used in Italian dishes we sometime make when the weather is cold. So here is my attempt to dry it on a cookie sheet.
Next I crushed it (by hand, can I sell it for more money? It's also organic. Where's the money?)

Lastly, I bagged it. Tada! (Maybe I should pay a marketing firm to create a packaging label for me.)As cold weather has now set in, I've been looking at soup recipes and noticed that most of them call for "fresh" Bail. So I naturally thought my packaging efforts had all been in vain until last night I noticed in the cupboard on the herb rack a brand new bottle of McCormick Crushed Basil. DAMN!

So is life, but I figure I have grown a little with my efforts. Besides if the end of the world comes next year and society as we know it slows; at least I will have the comfort of knowing I can do this. (RIGHT; and pope is really Mormon!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Victorian Salmon Chowder

Fall is coming, life is slow; so the fag was back in the kitchen tonight.

I've been looking at a lot of soup recipes lately in anticipation of the cooler weather. Last week I cooked up a simple Roasted Chicken Noodle soup that turned out pretty good. (Thank you Costco for providing the chicken.)

Tonight I made Victorian Salmon Chowder. It turned out "better than last time" said Sparky, a good sign. And the ultimate compliment is when she went for a second helping. YES!!

On Saturday, I sent Sparky to the store for some Salmon while I was at work, and she came home with a little too much for Sunday dinner. So I saved a portion and got out this recipe; we had most of the ingredients on hand, so we were good-to-go. I'm including the recipe here since last time I was reprimanded for not including it with another food item last spring. Apparently it's an "unwritten rule of bloggers" to include the recipe.
It's not a hard recipe, but you use a few pots.
Have I mentioned how much I love my gas stove. I love how hot it is and more importantly I really enjoy the temperature control: fast to boil and fast to cool. Lot's of control when making roux.

Lemon Slice
8 oz salmon fillet
4 diced little red new potatoes, unpeeled
¾ cup diced onion
1 ½ cups chopped celery
1 stick butter
½ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups half & half
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
¾ cup frozen peas
2 Tbl fresh dill weed
2 tsp (or more) Old Bay seasoning
2 tsp vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

In a saucepan of water and 1 lemon slice, poach salmon fillet for 10 minutes; set salmon aside.
In a large pan, combine potatoes, onion and celery. Barely cover with water and simmer until tender.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour. Then add milk, half & half, salt and sugar. Cook until thickened and add to cooked vegetables and liquid in pan.
Flake salmon and add to pan, along with peas, dill weed, Old Bay seasoning, and vinegar.
Salt and pepper to taste.