Saturday, April 30, 2011

World's "Gratest" Mom

I won this as a prize at a baby shower today.  It is a small grater that says "World's Gratest Mom" on the package.  I originally won some cookie cutters, but one of the hostesses came up to me and said, "You need this prize since you cook," and gave me the grater.  I love it!  I don't ever want to take it out of the box.

Sweet Potato and Apple Bake

I threw this together the other night after I decided that I wasn't in the mood for sweet potato fries. I wanted something sweet, so I added apples to the cut up sweet potatoes and made the type of topping that I would have on a fruit crumble.  The house smelled wonderful while this was baking.  The sweet potato and apple bake was a hit.  It tasted great and was really easy to make.  I hope to be able to make this with sweet potatoes from the garden in a few months.

Sweet Potato and Apple Bake

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 apples, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup orange juice
5 tablespoons melted butter, divided
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a glass pie plate.
2) Toss sweet potatoes and apples in orange juice and 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Place in the pie plate.
3) Combine remaining melted butter, oats, and brown sugar in a large bowl.  Mix until moist. Drop on top of the sweet potatoes and apples.
4) Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until sweet potatoes and apples are tender.

Monday, April 25, 2011

White Pizza

I made this recipe because I had a ball of pizza dough that needed to be used and 1/2 cup of heavy cream that was about to expire.  I was trying to think of something to do with 1/2 cup of cream, but most recipes called for more.  A friend of mine mentioned that she made white pizza for her family and it was a hit.  It inspired me to try and make my own white pizza.  I am so glad I did.  It was easy to make and was so yummy.  Both of my kids loved it.  My husband is not usually a big fan of white pizza, but he really enjoyed this one.  I am very excited about this because it means I can have white pizza without having to pay $10 for one when I go out!

White Pizza

1 pound of pizza dough
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup parmesan, asiago, or romano cheese (I used a mix of all 3)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan, asiago, or romano cheese

1) Preheat oven to 375.
2) Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes.  Add heavy cream.  When the cream bubbles, stir in the cheese.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat.
3) Roll dough into a circle and place on a pizza pan.
4) Top dough with alfredo sauce.  Sprinkle Italian seasoning on top.  Add the mozzarella and remaining parmesan, asiago, or romano cheese.
5) Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blackened Chicken Alfredo

I love alfredo sauce.  Until I made it for this recipe, I assumed that it was too hard to make, so I either bought the stuff in a jar, the dry pasta and sauce mixes, or just waited until I was at a restaurant that served it .  When I decided to try it on my own, I posted something on Facebook asking for recipes for alfredo sauce.  My friend Kathleen sent this to me.  It was her mom's recipe and she always loved it growing up.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  It had very simple ingredients and was easy to make.  The hardest part was grating all the cheese for the sauce.  If you are short on time, wait until the good grated parmesan (not the stuff in the green can) goes on sale and use that.

Blackened Chicken Alfredo

1/2 pound penne or ziti, cooked according to instructions on package
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons blackening seasoning, such as Big Kevin's Bayou Blend
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stick of butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tomato, chopped
shredded parmesan, if desired

1) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sprinkle blackening seasoning over both sides of the chicken breast halves.
2) Cook the chicken for 5 - 7 minutes on each side, or until chicken is fully cooked. Set aside.
3) In a large skillet or saucepan, heat butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
4) Add cream.  Stir to mix it with the butter.  Slowly add the cheese and stir until the sauce bubbles and thickens.
5) Add a small amount of the sauce to the beaten egg to temper the egg.  Add egg to the sauce.  Cook for 2 minutes longer.  Stir in parsley.
6) Add pasta to the sauce and stir.
7) Slice the chicken.
8) Combine chicken and pasta.  Top with tomatoes and shredded cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicken Saag with Naan

This was my first time cooking or eating Indian food.  I can honestly say that I enjoyed it!  My friend Lois sent me a recipe for Indian saag.  I had never even heard of it, but I saw that it used greens that were growing in my garden.  I harvested some kale and some swiss chard for the recipe.

I also used some leftover roasted chicken.  Using chicken that was already cooked really saved time on this recipe and allowed me to give some attention to the naan. The recipe called for a seeded green chilie.  I happened to have a small poblano pepper in the garden, so I harvested that and used it in the recipe.

My kids really enjoyed the chicken and the naan.  They weren't excited about the greens, but I am happy that they liked the chicken and the naan.

Chicken Saag
Adapted from All Recipes
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 green chilie pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons (or more) turmeric
1/2 pound chopped kale
1/2 pound chopped swiss chard (can use spinach)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken

1) In a large skillet or wok, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon of cumin, green chilie, garlic, turmeric, and chicken.  Stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
2) Add greens, remaining cumin, and coriander. Stir and cook covered over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Add water to keep the greens moist.

Adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
(makes 4 naan)

1/2 pound of master recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

1) Divide dough into 4 balls.  Roll each ball into a circle about 1/16-inch thick (about 8 or 9 inches in diameter).
2) Heat a large, cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of ghee.
3) Place one naan into the pan and fry for 2 minutes. Flip.  Fry, covered for 2 - 5 minutes longer, or until brown on both sides.
4) Repeat with remaining naan.


I decided to try some Indian cooking last week, which meant that I needed to make some Ghee.  I knew it was very simple to make (and much cheaper to make it on my own).  Kerrygold Irish butter finally went on sale, so I picked up a pound of it to make the Ghee.  The only ingredient you need is some butter.

I melted the butter over medium-low heat.

After the butter was melted, it bubbled and became white and foamy. I allowed the butter to simmer for about  10 minutes.  The top became golden -brown and the sediment on the bottom became an amber color.  The butter also went from being yellow to a deeper golden color.

I used a mesh strainer and a coffee filter to get any sediment and milk solids out of the Ghee.  I am storing it in a mason jar in my fridge.  The color is a little bit off in this picture.  The ghee is actually less brown.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chicken Salad

I roasted a chicken last week and really enjoyed doing different things with the leftovers.  There is a restaurant chain called Pollo Tropical that my family loves.  One of my favorite things there is the garlic-cilantro dipping sauce.  It is a mayonnaise-based sauce, so I thought it would be pretty good in a chicken salad.  I first used it in November with turkey leftovers as a turkey salad and it turned out great.  The chicken salad was delicious.  I decided to serve it on some bell pepper slices.  My husband had his with some rye bread.  I had some Dubliner cheese on the side.

Cilantro-Garlic Chicken Salad
Adapted from Marco News

2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 handful cilantro, chopped

Mix chicken, mayonnaise, garlic, and cilantro.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

The Chicken That Wouldn't Cook

Sometimes you plan a wonderful meal and things end up not going the way you planned.  I roast a chicken about every 6 weeks.  A whole, roasted chicken is cheap and we usually get 2 or 3 meals out of it plus 6 to 8 cups of chicken stock.   My mom gave me a frozen 5 pound chicken and I was so excited about cooking it.  The plan was to roast the chicken and have collards and mixed veggies from the garden.  I put the chicken in the oven at 4:30, thinking it would be ready between 6:00 and 6:30.  At 5:30, the meat thermometer was reading 145, I thought that was a little high, so I moved it to a thicker part of the chicken.  It dropped down to 95 degrees.  I knew dinner would be a little bit late at this point.  At 6:15, the chicken was nowhere near done, so I went ahead and made the vegetables.  My husband and I sat down with the kids at 6:30 and had the veggies, while the kids ate veggies, string cheese, and cantaloupe.  At 7:00, the chicken was finally done.  It was a great chicken.  Very moist, especially when you consider that it took 2 and a half hours to cook!  My husband and I had some chicken and the kids, who were full at this point, had a few  bites.  I ended up using the rest of the chicken in some chicken salad, chicken saag, and to make some chicken stock.  I'm still not sure what went wrong that night.  It may be the oven temperature.  I'll try again in a few weeks and hopefully everything will go a little bit better!

Collards and Mixed Veggies

The garden was pretty productive last week.  I was able to harvest all of our vegetables for 2 meals.  This first harvest was collards and mixed vegetables.  The second harvest was kale and chard that I used to do some Indian cooking.  I will post the Indian recipe later this week.  Today I will show the collards and  mixed vegetables.
This is my first time growing (and eating) collard greens.  Here is one of two plants in the garden, growing next to a sweet potato vine. The picture was taken after I harvested quite a few greens.

Here are the collards after they were washed and chopped.

I substituted collard greens for cabbage in my favorite cabbage recipe. It is impossible to make cooked greens of any kind look pretty. They tasted great!

The day I harvested the collard greens, I also harvested carrots, green beans, yellow beans, and peas.

After washing the veggies, I shelled the peas and chopped everything into bite-sized pieces.  To keep the carrots purple, I didn't peel them, I just scrubbed them really well.  I cooked the veggies in boiling water for 5 minutes, then topped them with Kerrygold garlic and herb butter. They were delicious!

Apple Cider Fondue

April 11 is National Cheese Fondue Day.  I'm pretty sure it is sponsored by fondue restaurants so that people will make reservations and spend tons of money on fondue dinner.  My 4 year old recently discovered cheese fondue.  I realized that it was an easy way to get him to eat his vegetables.  We have a fondue pot that we don't use very often, so I decided to make cheese fondue for dinner one night.  Most recipes call for beer or wine.  I know that most of the alcohol cooks out, but I wanted to experiment with a non-alcoholic cheese fondue.  I read several message boards that debated whether or not it was OK to use chicken broth in place of wine or apple cider instead of beer.  I finally decided to search for a recipe that used hard cider and substitute sparkling apple cider for the hard cider.  The fondue was great.  I think I might use less chicken broth next time because the fondue was a little thin. We all loved the taste that the apple cider added to the fondue...a little sweet, but not too sweet. My son's favorite dippers were celery and "brown" bread.  The recipe I used suggested using chicken apple sausages or chorizo as a dipper.  I didn't have any when I made this, but they would be great with this fondue.  If you don't have a fondue pot, you can use a double-boiler or crock pot.  The crock pot method will take longer, but the fondue will be great.

I took a picture of the fondue and dippers, but never transferred it to the computer...then I deleted the photos from my camera.  Oops!

Apple Cider Fondue
Adaped from Food Network

12 ounces sparkling apple cider
3/4 cup (or less) chicken broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound grated swiss cheese (I used 1/2 swiss and 1/2 Kerrygold Dubliner)
1/2 pound grated sharp cheddar (I used Kerrygold Red Leicester)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Dippers: Cubes of bread, carrots, celery, cauliflower, apples, brocooli, etc.

1) Heat cider, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic over medium heat.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

2) Add cheese, stirring until cheese is melted.  

3) Add cayenne.  Cook fondue over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.