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Friday, November 4, 2011

Slow-Cooker London Broil

   The cool lady on the left is my Grandmother Sue. and the girl on the right is me on my wedding day at the wonderful-much needed bridal brunch given by some other amazing ladies in my family. She is known for her sweet,caring nature,her sweet pickles and if you ask any member of my family they will tell you her London Broil recipe is out of this world. I had heard rave reviews of her recipe for London Broil for years and I knew I had to make it.

Sooo... I did.

For her.

At her 90th birthday dinner at our house a few years back.I must admit I was nervous and a little intimidated.She would love me if my hair was blue although she might not like it.She gets just so excited at any thing her children,grand children and great-grandchildren accomplish and just smiles from ear to ear. I knew if this meal was awful and we wound up ordering pizza she would still be thrilled with me,my efforts and that was enough for me.Good thing the meal didn't stink and a lovely time was had by the guest of honor and her family.

    Her London Broil recipe is not hard and not time-consuming. It's a simple treat that calls for pretty simple ingredients.The cut of meat is the real star in this recipe. The sauce that coats the meat is just luscious.I knew that a recipe for this classic was such a treasure. I also knew that there had to be a slow-cooker version of London Broil. It didn't take me long to find that slow-cooker recipe and I didn't have to look very far.

   Thank you allrecipes.com for coming through for me yet again. I love this website,have for many years.You should love it too. The recipes number in the gagillions. The folks that look at this site,cook the recipes on this site comment and the comments help.The suggestions made in the comments listed on the Slow-Cooker London Broil recipe made a difference in the final product.The leftovers made for some fine eating the next night at dinner. Hooray for another stellar slow-cooker recipe in the recipe box.


Here we go:   

      ***Weelll just a quick note: I did this recipe in two days. I prepped the meat the night before, added all the ingredients and turned the slow-cooker on the next morning.Soooo the pictures reflect those steps. It can totally be done the same day,whatever suits your fancy. Ok so now esshhhmmm-throat clearing ...***

Let's get started:

            Oh a jar full of gold: pork fat. Simple,unadulterated pork fat.It makes a fine flavor on browned flank steak. The aromas that stick around are just barely evident hours later on your plate full of London Broil.

  Break out your roasting pan or big ol' skillet. Pat dry the flank steak,salt and pepper each piece of meat and brown the steaks on each side.

  Since I decided to do this recipe in two steps,parts,nights...I browned the meat,let it rest and cool down then wrapped it in foil  and let it spend the night in the fridge. This step also helps seal in the juices of the just cooked meat.

       Also before I went to bed that night,as the flank steak rested and cooled I prepped the vegetables and  whipped up the terribly time-consuming sauce ingredients: cream of mushroom soup,dry onion soup mix,condensed tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce,and red wine vinegar.People it was tough. I had to put ALL of the ingredients in a bowl and stir.Tough job but you will thank yourself in the morning.Now cover that bowl of goodness and toss it in the fridge too. See you in the morning.

  Morning! So here we are: Put the meat in the slow-coker first,then the vegetables and finally the sauce you whipped up last night.Put the lid on and let that wonderful-piece-of-kitchen equipment do the work.

 Dang fine dinner that night. And just for fun and gluttony's sake ...

I made mashed potatoes too. I mean really fine eating that night,not nearly a celebratory as a 90th birthday dinner,but I know if I made this new slow-coker classic for my amazing Grandmother Sue,she would love every bite.I can't tell you how lucky I am,I just am.

Slow-Cooker London Broil
adapted from allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
2-3 lbs flank steak
vegetabel oil or pork fat :)
salt and pepper
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 TBL Worcestershire sauce
1 TBL red wine vinegar
4-5 carrots,chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 box of button mushrooms,roughly chopped
Directions:
1.In a large skillet or roasting pan,heat the vegetable oil over med-high heat.Pat dry the flank steak,salt and pepper each side then brown on each side for 5-8 minutes.You want a good crusty brown on each side,this will help the meat hold up the slow-cooker. Put the meat directly into the slow-cooker or if making ahead,let meat rest and cool,wrap tightly in aluminum foil and store in fridge overnight.
2.Next mix together in a medium bowl the cream of mushroom soup,tomato soup,dry onion soup mix,Worcestershire sauce and red wine vinegar.Wrap and store in fridge if making ahead.
3.Put the carrots and mushrooms in the crock of the slow-cooker on top of the meat and then pour the sauce on top of the vegetables.Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.I don't reccommend cooking this on on high,just because this much meat takes time to get as tender as it was and slow food is good food.ENJOY!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sue's Biscotti

"Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in the snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all algow." 
                 -Anonymous




















   A little perspective on just how big that crepe myrtle is,IT IS HUGE! I hadn't noticed the colors of the leaves had changed until my husband showed. Really let's be honest,I didn't think ( for some reason...) that the leaves on the crepe myrtles even changed colors in the fall. I guess all of the others trees have had me so mesmerized I didn't notice. Now every time I walk outside my back door,I look up,just to enjoy the simple beauty right in front of me.














                           Now onto some delicious biscotti with a hint of pumpkin pie spice and fresh nutmeg. The theme this week at IHCC is Harvest Moon.It's now really fall outside and my perfect idea of warm comfort is big ol' cup of coffee on a cold fall morning.Biscotti is a perfect addition to any hot cup of coffee.



Tessa Kiros has a friend named Sue and Sue has a fine recipe for biscotti.I've made biscotti before and quite frankly I can't ever get enough of this simple,stale bread treat that makes a hot cup of coffee divine.















                   Biscotti is a pretty simple cookie,biscuit in itself and so easy to make.The only effort really is the 2nd round of baking that takes place.It makes a difference in the crust edges and those crusty edges get better with time.I have learned from experience that biscotti is better about 2 days after making them. Stale biscuits are a good thing in this case. I threw in a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and a couple scrapes of fresh nutmeg and boy howdy it was just enough. You could just barely detect the flavors of fall,perfect I think.

Sue's Biscotti
adapted from Falling Cloudberries
Ingredients:
1/2 lb plus 2 TBl unsalted butter-cut into small pieces
plus about 2 TBL extra butter
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg (fresh nutmeg if you have it)
1 3/4 cup milk
2 TBL white wine vinegar
Directions:
1.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.In the bow of a food processor add the flour and butter pieces.Pulse 5-6 times,enough to break up the butter into pieces.Add in the sugar,slat,baking powder,pumpkin pie spice and fresh nutmeg.Pulse 5-6 more times to mix everything and at this point the crumbles of butter and flour and spices should be about the size of a pea.
2.Add in the vinegar and then with the machine running pour in the milk.The dough will mix and ball up on itself.Take the dough out of the food processor and divide it up into 3 portions. Shape each portion into a long,rounded at the ends rectanle that measures 12 inches long.
3.Place each log on a baking sheet that can accommodate all three logs.Cut up the extra butter into small pieces between the logs.Bake for 45 min to 1 hour.The logs will bake together,but when youtake them out of the oven quickly run a knife between each each log to separate them.Let them cool completely.
4.Heat the oven again back up to 300 degrees. Slice each log into smaller logs and lay on cut side down on a baking sheet.Bake for 30 minutes more,until the edges are a little hard.Remove from the oven and let cool again completely.Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homemade Chicken Stock

     So you ever have "those" kind of weeks....

 Last week was one of "those" kind of weeks.And how did I handle "that" kind of week...

        I made chicken stock.

     I find something so comforting about chicken stock,homemade chicken stock to be exact. Maybe it's the millions of cans Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup that I consumed as a child or maybe it's the signal for my soul that fall is on it's way.Well really fall is here and that means big ol' pots of homemade soups and stews that silently whisper comfort when there is just enough chill in the air....well to be fall.

    I make chicken stock about twice a year.I make it in the late summer/early fall and also just after the first of the year. I have a tendency to make a ton of it,so that means in turn I make a ton of soup.
  I think this year I might give some away to my foodie friends.Let me know if you would love some homemade chicken stock,I gots lots.
     I pour it up into quart-size freezer bags,label those jokers and off I go to the deep freezer.I'm you telling that is such a feeling of satisfaction. Another feeling of satisfaction: the explanation for the other quart-size ziploc bags of frozen chicken bones in said deep freezer. Bless his heart,after about the 10th time of him asking,my husband finally remembered what was in those bags AND has never wondered again at least out loud why I am saving those chicken bones.

    Homemade Chicken Stock of course!

         Ingredients needed for homemade chicken stock:chicken bones (raw or cooked-cooked chicken bones still have fat on them and unless fried/cooked to a crisp that fat can be rendered and there will still be flavor galore in dem bones.) onion,carrot,celery,garlic,bay leaf,parsley and kosher salt.

       Sooooo here's where the good stuff come in,add a little,like a drop of olive oil to a large stockpot.Brown the chicken bones in that oil until a little crispy.
   Add the roughly chopped onion,carrot and celery to the pot.Give a quick smash to the garlic and toss it in the pot with its friends.Brown those veggies in the chicken drippings until softened.Add back in the chicken bones.
        Add water and bring to a boil,partially cover and cook for at least 2 hours.After the time is up scoop out the vegetables and chicken bone and strain the water out of the vegetable mixture,extracting as much juice as possible.Discard the vegetable mixture and pour that extracted juice back into the pot.Refrigerate overnight,then the next day skim off the hardened fat from the surface of the stock. Refrigerate stock for no more that 4 days if you have to. After you have skimmed the fat off the stock,at this point youcould go ahead and bag up the stock to freeze.Be sure to label the freezer container of choice with a date and quantity,for me it helps when debating on just how much stock I'll need. This is some mighty fine stock.
   My stars Homemade Beef Stock is duh-vine,I'll tell you about that one real soon. Oh! Oh! and Homemade Vegetable Stock,fine fine fine and so smooth.Hello fall!
Homemade Chicken Stock
adapted from Mark Bittman
Ingredients:
3-4 lbs of chicken bones,rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
1 cup roughly chopped onion
1 cup roughly chopped carrot
1/2 cup roughly chopped celery
1 clove garlic,smashed
a few sprigs of fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt,more if necessary
About 4 quarts of water,or more depending
   on the size of your stockpot
Directions: 
1. Brown the chicken bones in a few drops of olive oil over medium heat.Remove chicken bones and add the chopped veggies and garlic to the pot.
2.Brown the veggies and garlic until just barely softened,3-5 minutes. Add the chicken bones back into the pot along with the bay leaf,parsley,salt and water.
3.Bring just about to a boil,reduce heat to low and partially cover with lid. Simmer for at least 2 hours or until the meat has fallen off the bone.
4.Scoop out the veggie mixture and strain through a colander into a mixing bowl,extracting as much juice as possible.Pour the extracted juice back into the pot and refrigerate stock overnight.The next day skim off the hardened fat off of the top of the stock. ( If you really want you can strain through a small colander lined with dampened cheesecloth,just to clear up the stock of extra fat hanging around.)
5.Pour up stock into quart-size freezer containers,label and freeze. Enjoy!



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mid-Week Moment #46

"Who among us hasn't envied a cat's ability to ignore the cares of daily life and relax completely? "
                                                                           -Karen Brademeyer

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mid-Week Moment #45

      
         "There are thoughts which are prayers.There are moments when,whatever the posture of the body,the soul is on its knees." -Victor Hugo

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple Cake with Toffee Topping

    I decided my Sunday was going to go a little bit different. The list of things ta-do hadn't gotten any shorter,but the things ta-do weren't all that bad.
Things Ta-do.
1.Fold, and put up laundry.
2. Iron whatever laundry needs it.
3.Maybe attempt to make Pomegranate Jelly...
   ( I wound up not making the jelly,maybe next year.)
4.Make a delicious-sounding apple cake for IHCC.
5.Oooohhh  Ooh Ooh I have time to make Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup.
6. Well then that means I need those cheese muffins as a side.
7.Watch the season 2 premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. I am not a huge fan of most zombie movies/tv show things,but ! this show is so well done,I couldn't help but fall for it. Scary part is the living people are way scarier than the zombies. You should so find season 1 from someone and watch it. Yay zombies!

      All of those things ta-do list are listed in the usual order of progression.Today was going to be a little different and that required some change on my part.Time management is sometimes not my strong suit.So instead of waiting until the last minute which I would usually have attempted to make the apple cake while the chicken tortilla soup cooked, I decided to go ahead and make dessert earlier in the day and not push it until last minute. Strong suit of mine. Brilliant idea yes,but then good gravy that required one more thing: patience. Sure I could go ahead and make the cake...but I would have to wait on eating the cake too.

   Sanity or cake. Sanity ... or cake...

      I chose sanity and that made for a fine,accomplished Sunday. Hooray for some                         Apple Cake with Toffee Topping:

   The ingredients list for this recipe is fairly short: apples,butter,sugar,vanilla extract,eggs,all-purpose flour,baking powder and milk. 
     I took a nod from the ever so talented MM and sprinkled a little cinnamon and ground ginger on the apples.
    Next you make up the batter,pour it over the apples and put that baby in the oven to bake up in all of it's appley goodness. My heavens my kitchen smelled this amazing.
    The ingredients for the toffee topping are as follows: butter,sugar and milk. Follow the directions. I missed adding the sugar into the butter and well had nicely browned butter,next I added the sugar ( duh) and mixed the two together. I added the milk like the recipe said, getting with the program helps tremendously and really made more of a glaze with a hint of caramel. It's tasted just fine and really highlights all of the applely goodness baked within the cake. Dang fine cake. 
                   This is how far patience gets you when you have been staring at the Apple Cake with Toffee Topping all day long.
Apple Cake with Toffee Topping
adapted from Falling Cloudberries
written by Tessa Kiros
Ingredients:
3 apples ( I used Granny Smith,Tess recommends Golden Delicious.)
7 TBL butter,softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour,
   plus extra for dusting
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
Topping:
1 1/2 TBL butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.Grease and flour a deep 9-inch springform cake pan.Peel the apples and core the apples. cut them in half lengthwise.Cut each half into about 6 slices.Arrange the apple slices in the pan,they should fit well into two tight circles.
2.Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,cream the butter and sugar togather until pale and creamy.Add the eggs,beating well after each addition.Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the butter mixture. Beat in the milk until the mixture is soft and fluffy.Scrape out the batter over the apples and smooth the top of the batter.
3. Bake for 35-40 minutes,or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.Remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool.
4. While the cake cools make the topping: Put the butter and sugar in a small pan and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes,until the sugar melts and turns a light caramel.Add the cream,drop by drop initially,then in a steady stream,whisking the whole time.Take that the mixture doesn't splash.Decrease the heat a little and simmer for another minute.
5.Loosen the sides of the can by running a knife around the outer edges of the cake pan.Pour the caramel over the top of the cake.Let it cool completely before releasing the latch on the springform pan.Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Plum Sauce

             
Hooray for Deb in Hawaii!!! You are the giveaway winner !!! Check the contact me tab on this blog and email me your name and address so I can ship you some lovely Red & Green Pepper Jelly and who knows... some lovely canned goodies will also make their way to Hawaii! 
Now onto Plum Sauce:
        As far back as I can remember I have loved condiments. Yes,I Meredith love condiments. I am also a sucker. See you have learned two things about me that I am 80% proud of. My love for condiments started way back when,probably around 6 or 7 years old and it wasn't mostly by my choosing. Fridays nights were good nights growing up. If my sister and I were good all week we got Happy Meals from McDonald's.

Yes my weekly aspiration was not good behavior,the heck with morals but a boxed meal,toy included from McDonald's.

       And the sucker comes in part thanks to my younger sister,bless her.See my younger sister and I both like our condiments. We would get our Happy Meals and either take them home or eat in the restuarant. If we ate in the restaurant,we sat happily around the table to enjoy a lovely meal together and then head for the playground ( that's another post,gosh I loved those playgrounds) .Every single time we ate in at really, any fast food establishment,my sister never ever got her own ketchup packets.We would sit down break open our box full of a burger,fries and cool toy. Of course we needed,wanted ketchup with our french fries,so someone had to be the lucky kid guess who? to make the trip back up to the counter to get the ketchup packets.

    Oh and we loved the sweet and sour sauce option you had if you ordered chicken nuggets. I loved that dern little rectangle pack of sweet AND sour sauce. LOVED IT. I might have actually consumed a packet or two on its own in my time,minus chicken nuggets,who knows. Sad but likely.

     I have lots of condiments in my fridge,way more than actual food.You go look in the majority of Americans refrigerators and there you will see way more condiments than actual food. I have found a condiment that I love almost as much as sweet and sour sauce,Plum Sauce. I was walking through the produce section at the grocery store minding my business.I look to the left for something...bananas,yes bananas. Next I look down and there in a plastic bin,hanging with all of their friends, pluots,lots and lots of pluots. They were the prettiest stone fruit I had seen in forever.

   Dang it why does pretty produce stop me dead in my tracks? 

   The pluot is 70% plum and 30% apricot,let's be real it's mostly plum. I don't know where the apricot part is in the mix but they say it's there. So okay. I bought quite a few of this purty fruit,too many to mention,let's just say a lot. If it's in season,fairly good price AND you have some sort of recipe in mind for said produce item THEN I see no problem in stocking up. Luckily I had a recipe in mind,Plum Sauce. Thank you fine folks at the Ball recipe development department. It's on page 285 my most favorite canning and preserving cookbook of all time.

Plum Sauce
adapted from The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Make about 4 pint jars or 8 half-pint jars
Ingredients:
1 c lightly packed dark brown sugar
2 c granulated sugar
1 c cider vinegar
1/2 lg onion,quartered (Run the onion and garlic through the food process until finely chopped.)
2 cloves garlic,smashed
1 TBL crushed red pepper flakes
2 TBL mustard seed
1 TBL salt
1 tsp ground ginger
10 cups finely chopped pitted plums ( I pitted,halved then quartered the plums,chopped them in the food processor to get them a little bit smaller and more compact.)
Directions:
1.In a large stainless steel saucepan combine all ingredients except the plums.Bring to a boil over high heat,stirring constantly. Add the plums and return to a boil.Reduce heat and boil gently,stirring occasionally for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. ( I let mine go for a little longer and it turned out fine.)
2.Prepare your canner,jars and lids.
3. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars,leaving 1/2-inch headspace.Remove air bubbles and add more sauce if needed. Wipe rims,center lid and screw on band until resistance is met and then increase to fingertip-tight.
4.Place jars in canner,ensuring the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring water back to a full,rolling boil. Process the jars for 20 minutes,remove lid and wait 5 minutes then remove jars. Cool and store.
1 TBL

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mid-Week Moment #44

 " Deep in their roots,
   All flowers keep the light." -Theodore Roethke

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grow-Up Chili

   For some reason this last birthday sunk in a little more than I expected it to,who knows why. One thing I did feel after this last birthday,was a little bit more grown-up.

Not a whole lot grown-up,just a little.

    It's been a long year,30 was a big year for my sweet husband and I. Birthdays and the year that follows that birthday is celebrated with those around you. I think,be it friends,family or the four cats that you live with,we all share in that birthday because...well all of those people (yes cats are more like people than we know it) make us...well us.

      Back a long-long time ago a group of friends gathered at another friend's house for a chili cook-off,a birthday chili cook-off.The friends were my dad's fraternity brothers and the occasion,besides the chili,was a birthday celebration. Two of the guys in the group,Fred and Frank both had birthdays in the month of October. They decided what better way to celebrate those birthdays than with chili! So every year for a little over 10 years the same group of folks gathered together to celebrate life,friendship and the simple company of food and good friends.

     Ahh the good life.

        I think,I am mostly sure that these gatherings started before I was born. I grew up with the notion of people and food together makes a great night.Uncle Freddie and Aunt Susie had a round booth seat in their kitchen and oh gosh that was my most favorite place to sit.One of my parents would gather my dinner together for me. I would climb up up that booth and chow down on some chili. I don't remember flavors or what else was served at those celebrations. The one feeling that will stay with me forever:togetherness. One big group of people,sitting around a table enjoying a meal together. I'm sure it wasn't all calm and peaceful at those get-togethers. I don't know a family that had peace and calm and if they do...well that's just boring. Kids running around all hyped up on kool-aid and chili. Parents balancing a good time and chasing those kids around the house. I do know that a good time was had by all regardless of the mayhem and smiles were served up with every bowl of chili. Oh and saltine crackers.

          An friend of mine and fellow foodie has a fantastic blog that contains a fantastic chili recipe.I have fallen for it head over heels,really it's the first bowl of chili I have gotten excited about in a long time.I think you should invite your friends over,serve up a bowl of chili and watch the smiles appear on the faces of those you love.

Grown-Up Chili

The ingredients: ground beef,onion,bell pepper,garlic,tomato paste and salt and pepper.

     We also have some dry spices,beef broth,tomato sauce,canned beans and beer.

   Hello fall.
      I have been accused of making recipes a little bit more spicy than necessary. Oh I gave in a and removed the stems and seeds of the jalapeno. And much to my surprise,it was plenty of heat.

Grown-Up Chili
adapted from Michael Hansen
blog: Chez Hansen
Ingredients:
1 TBl vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

2 TBL chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 TBL cumin
1 TBL paprika
1 tsp dried caynenne pepper
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper,to taste
1 TBL vegetable oil

2 jalapenos,stems removed and seed cleaned out
1 red bell pepper,stems and seeds removed-finely chopped
1 green bell pepper,stems and seeds removed-finely chopped
1/2 lg yellow onion,diced
2-3 cloves garlic,minced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 12-ounce beer ( amber beer works wells,but whatever is on hand is fine too)
1-2 cup beef broth
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cans of beans,rinsed and drained ( I used one can red kidney beans and one can black beans.)
Directions:
1. In a large non-stick skillet,heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef along with the dry spices.Stir to combine and brown the meat until all of the pink is gone.Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.( If cooked any longer,the beef will become chewy by the time the chili is ready.Chewy is not good.)
2.While the meat drains,wipe out the skillet you just cooked the meat in.Next heat the vegetable oil in the same skillet add the bell peppers,onion,garlic and jalapenos to the skillet.Cook just until softened.Add the can of tomato paste to the vegetables and dissolve into the mixture.
3. Add the meat to the crock of slow-cooker,then add the vegetable mixture.Next add the rest of the ingredients into the slow-cooker: beer,beef broth,tomato sauce and beans.
4.Cook on low for 4-5 hours,or if you're really in a hurry cook on high for 1-2 hours. Michael says that the slower the chili cooks the deeper the flavors will be. I can't agree more. Enjoy!

         

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chicken with Cilantro and Spinach Rice


 I knew as soon as the words came out of my mouth " I don't know just how productive I might be tonight..."

Silly me,I knew... I just knew I would have to tell you about this chicken dish we made last night.We heated up the leftovers. I took one bite and I thought I might just should tell you about the leftovers before I become fairly unproductive.

     Over at iheartcookingclubs we have taken fondly to Tess Kiros and all of her international flair.I started this group cooking along with Giada de Laurentiis,then we moved on to Jamie Oliver and now Tessa Kiros. Two things have amazed me in the last year,cooking through all of the different recipes: 1. I love cooking,reading cookbooks and telling you the reader about all of the amazing recipes that have come my way. 2. It's aint' so bad being pushed a little out of your comfort zone. Learning new techniques,ingredients and cuisines is a good thang.

Enough said.

     Really cilantro and spinach and chicken and rice... I wouldn't have thunk for a second,but after one bite of this food made for some good eatin'. Tessa Kiros told us in the intro to this recipe that this dsih was similar to Peruvian pilaf. (Hello? comfort zone,you there?) You brown the chicken in a large heavy-bottomed pan,until it's crispy and golden and almost cooked. I think this part of the recipe makes the whole dish. Oh gosh it's good,chicken fat is a perfect foundation for the flavors in the rice. It mellows the cilantro. The carrot and pepper pieces are sweetened by the cilantro. And oh gosh the icing on the cake: spiced yogurt. ( Greek yogurt laced with cumin,salt,fresh ground black pepper and olive oil. Dang.)

   I wish you could have seen the green color in my food processor,gorgeous. And the smell was amazing,the cilantro and spinach was so fresh. It was heaven. A thought " If this smell is going to move through out a plate full of rice,sign me up for two plates.Yes please!"
    So you brown the chicken,remove it to a plate and soften your vegetable mixture in the chicken goodness. She mentions to "discard the oil from the pan" I didn't know if that included the chicken goodness left in the bottom of the pan,so hooray for adaptation! The chicken fat,crusty pieces of chicken skin and all of the flavors in the bottom of that pan made this dish sing. I could go on...
  Standing in the middle of Kroger,I had no clue what "short-grain rice" was. NOT A CLUE. And yes I could have whipped out my fancy phone with it's semi-fast internet service and googled "short-grain rice" but  I saw medium-grain rice!!!! I'll take me a bag of that and hit the road.Thank you very much.
    This recipe makes a lot. It called for a 3-lb whole chicken,we used 4 chicken drumsticks and 4 chicken thighs.The recipe also calls for a little over two cups of rice,folks THAT IS A LOT OF RICE,but I guarantee once you taste it you will soon be a member of the clean plate club.
****Oh !!! and because I want to,let's have a giveaway! The shelves in my laundry room are filling up with all of this season's canning fun,so I want to give away a jar of Red & Green Pepper Jelly. Comment on this post and tell me about a recipe or cooking technique,recipe or ingredient that has pushed you a little out of your comfort zone. Comments for the giveaway will close Sundayday,October 9th at midnight. Yay free pepper jelly!****

Chicken with Cilantro and Spinach Rice
adapted from Tessa Kiros
recipe read on page 353 of Falling Cloudberries
Ingredients:
2/3 c olive oil,divided
4 chicken thighs,skin-on/bone in
4 chicken drumsticks,skin-on/bone-in
1 small bunch cilantro
2 c firmly packed spinach leaves
2 garlic cloves,minced
2 carrots,diced
1/2 red bell pepper,seeded and diced
1/3 c fresh or frozen peas
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
2 1/4 c short-grain rice ( I used medium-grain.)
 Spiced Yogurt:
1 c plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp olive oil
Directions:
1.Heat half of the olive oil in a large,heavy-bottomed pan and brown the chicken until it is brown and crispy on each side and just about cooked all the way through.Remove from the heat and wipe the oil from the pan.
2.Break off the leaves of the cilantro from the bunch and add the to the bowl of a food processor along with the spinach and 1/2 c of water.Puree until smooth.
3.Heat the remaining olive oil in the same pan you cooked the chicken in and add the garlic.Cook the garlic for 30 seconds, add the carrot,pepper and peas.Saute for 5 minutes,then add the cayenne and paprika,mix well.Add the cilantro/spinach puree,cook for 2 minutes.Add the chicken back in and season with salt and pepper.Saute for 2 minutes and then add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover,decrease the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
4.Remove the chicken back to the same plate and add the rice together with 2 cups of hot water.Cook,uncovered for 5-10 minutes,or until the rice seems to have absorbed most of the water.Decrease the heat to an absolute minimum and cook for 15 minutes until the rice is cooked.Stir only a few times to make sure the rice isn't sticking.
5.Spiced Yogurt: Stir the yogurt,cumin and olive oil.Season with salt and pepper.
6.Serve the rice onto a large platter,arrange the chicken pieces on top of the rice. Serve the spiced yogurt in a separate bowl in the side.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mid-Week Moment #43

"Revel in your imperfections,Be entertained by your problems,And know that once looked ahead and wished you were where you are now. And once again you will look back and smile. -Anonymous

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fig Jam


              I thought for a moment "Mmmm should I make one more fig jam recipe?" I knew when I saw these figs at the produce store it was meant to be. Figs have become a favorite of mine in the last year. Until today I had had no experience with Black Mission Figs,but honey we are close friends now. They make some fine jam,so fragrant and bright.

    This week is our first week featuring Tess Kiros over at iheartcookinglubs.blogspot.com . I couldn't be more excited about her cookbooks I have in front of me! Recipes that are inspired by so many different cuisines is a challenge for me. I like a challenge. Hooray for a challenge.

     The fig jam recipe is on page 279 of Twelve ,the cookbook written by Tess Kiros. Twelve features a 12-months journey through the tastes of Tuscany. The lady is the picture above is on page 280. She makes me smile...well because she's smiling.It's pictures like this one scattered throughout this cookbook that make it easy for me to cook from. I like books with pictures. Words are good,but pictures and words!  lookout this is gonna be good.

  I didn't do much adaptation to the recipe,it didn't need it. Figs have a beautiful floral note. One single green cardamom pod highlights that floral note nicely.

Fig Jam
adapted from Twelve
written by Tessa Kiros
Ingredients:
2 lbs whole,ripe figs
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
( the same lemon works for both jobs,be sure to zest first then juice.)
1 green cardamom pod,smashed and tied up in a small piece of cheesecloth
5 cups sugar
Directions:
1.Prepare canner,jars and lids.Cut away the hard stem of the figs and peel away any blemishes.Chop the figs into small pieces.Put the figs in a large non-stick pot ( or preserving pot) along with the lemon juice,lemon zest and the cardamom pod in cheesecloth.
2.Over high heat bring the fig mixture to a boil,cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly.Take out the cheesecloth bundle then remove the pot from the heat.Now using a hand-blender puree the mixture to your desired consistency for the jam.
3.Add the cheesecloth bundle back into the pot and return the pot to the heat.Heat the fig mixture over high heat back up to a boil,stirring constantly. Bring the mixture up to 200 degrees,this will be a rolling boil.
4.Pour the jam into the sterilized jars,center lids and secure with rings. Process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.Cool jars on a wire-cooling rack overnight.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Creamy Butternut Squash and Chile

   It's time to say so long to Jamie Oliver and all his divine recipes. Over at  I Heart Cooking Clubs we are all bidding ado to Jamie and gosh how time has flown by. I thought for our last potluck I'd give it my all,I mean really I gave it my all tonight.So here's to you Jamie Oliver: Roasted Chicken Thighs with Creamy Butternut Squash and Chile .

  If you would have told me at this point: "Hey Meredith you are sooo  going to love this meal,oh and the butternut squash is the best part!" 
    I would have flung the vegetable peeler at you and been done with the whole thing. Now I know that's a little much,but it's been a long week,let's be honest I didn't think I'd wind up peeling a butternut squash tonight. Patience and endurance paid off in the form of a fine meal full of flavors galore.

   Rinse and pat dry some chicken thighs. Salt and pepper them,then brown on each side.While the chicken browns,slice up two serrano chiles and toss them in the pan.Sprinkle 1 tsp dried oregano over the browning chicken thighs at some point while they are in the pan.
 Line a baking pan with foil and gently place the browned chicken thighs in the pan. Scrape a little of the cooking juice along with the chile pieces into the pan with the chicken.Nestle the butternut squash pieces around the chicken and drizzle a little heavy cream over the BUTTERNUT SQUASH ONLY,not on the chicken.Last but not least, sprinkle the best part: 


Nutmeg!!! It makes this dish. I used whole nutmeg ( obviously),but you could use ground nutmeg instead,BUT!!! just a pinch. It doesn't take much and this dish really doesn't need a whole lot.


  My husband I were pleasantly surprised by this whole dish. We loved the roasted chicken,all crispy and spicy.The chile-infused heavy cream was silky smooth and people, the squash was just wonderful. Roasted squash was perfect. I'm glad patience persevered and a fine dinner was had by all. Jamie it's been real. 

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Creamy Butternut Squash and Chile
adapted from Jamie Oliver/jamieoliver.com
Ingredients:
4 chicken thighs,bone in and skin on
1 medium - large butternut squash
(halved,peeled,seeds scooped out and cut into smaller slices)
2 serrano chiles,sliced thin (for less heat remove stems and seeds,before slicing)
1 tsp dried oregano
satl,pepper
pinch of dried nutmeg ( or a few scrape of whole nutmeg)
1/4c ( or so ) or heavy cream
Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Rinse and pat dry 4 bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs. Salt and pepper each thigh. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over med-hi heat,brown chicken thighs 3 minutes on each side.Add to the skillet the chile slices and dried oregano.
2.Line a baking pan with foil,place browned chicken thighs in the pan along with chicken cooking juices,chile slices and oregano from the bottom of the pan.
3.Pack squash slices around the chicken thighs,drizzle heavy cream over the sqaush only!,not on the chicken.Sprinkle nutmeg over the whole dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes,rotating dish halfway through.ENJOY!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yellow Rice

  Remember Helen Partlow?... She is home cook that bettered the lives of others through food. Yeah that Helen. Well I love her cookbook. I've decided I want to cook my way through this cookbook and tell you about it.I think you'd love it AND if I EVER find another copy I will give it away on here.It's a stretch if I find another copy,but what not a stretch,LOVING THIS COOKBOOK. It's simple,solid and has some wonderful recipe in it that CAN NOT be passed up on. Yellow rice is one of those recipes. It's a quick side dish for any meal,try and you'll see.

       Gather your ingredients: onion,green pepper,tomato,butter,water,chicken bouillon, salt,long grain rice and turmeric. >>>>>> Stop the presses,you saw that right: turmeric.
   Chop the onion and green pepper. Seed and chop the tomato. Add some butter to a medium size saucepan,add the chopped veggies and some salt to the pan.Cook until tender,a few minutes tops.
  Add the rice and turmeric,stir it around to combine.
 Next add the water and chicken bouillon,stir to combine.Bring to a boil,reduce heat and simmer for 15-16 minutes.
  Fine. Fine. Fine. It's simple,fluffy and perfect. The rich flavors of the turmeric really pairs well with roasted chicken. I should know I made it with my favorite roasted chicken recipe not to long ago. I love easy dinners,makes my week so much easier.

*****Soooooo until I can give away a copy of Helen Partlow's cookbook,I want to give away some almost as wonderful: Red & Green Pepper Jelly. Comment on this post and tell me about a cookbook that has recently made it way into your cookbook library. Helen Partlow and Lisa Fain are my two favorite cookbook authors as of late,what are yours??? The giveaway will end Saturday night at 12:00 a.m. I will announce the winner in my post on Sunday night. So get to thinking and make some Yellow Rice.*****


Yellow Rice
adapted from Helen Partlow's Recipes
Ingredients:
1/4c chopped onion
1/4 c chopped green pepper
1 tomato,seeded and chopped
2 TBL butter
1 tsp salt
2 c water
2 tsp chicken stock base or 2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 c long grain rice
1/4 tsp turmeric
Directions:
1. In a medium size saucepan, melt the butter over med-high heat.Add the onion,green pepper and tomato.Toss in the salt,stir to combine.Cook until tender.
2. Add in the rice and turmeric,stir to combine. Next add the chicken bouillon and water,stir to combine.Cover,bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 15-16 minutes until liquid is absorbed.