Friday, May 13, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes! And blogs I currently love

This week is dedicated to transitioning my blog from blogspot to a WordPress blog and a new domain. Very exciting, indeed. Since I won't be posting this week, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite cooking blogs for all of you loyal readers (all three of you) to peruse in this dark week.

Cajunlicious: An awesome blog dedicated to Cajun cooking. Jessica is an amazing cook and her recipes are easy and straight-forward.

The Real Food Blog: Mark Scarbrough writes a very informative blog on cooking food. He co-wrote a book, Real Food has Curves, that has seriously changed my life. Tune in for recipes using real, whole foods and good essays on food writing.

Eat Yourself Skinny- I have just started reading this blog and I totally fell in love with it. Kelly shares healthy, weight-watcher friendly recipes.

A Veggie Venture- I have been following this blog for awhile. Lately, Alanna has been doing a series on including more veggies in your diet.

Enjoy these great blogs and I look forward to sharing with you the new and improved blog.

Friday, May 6, 2011

CSA Ideas and Recipes

Bok Choy (I think a stir fry is in order!)
Lettuce Head
Salad Mix
Saute Mix

Ramps- After looking at several recipes for ramps, I decided to just incorporate them into other dishes I was making. I will use them in the following dishes:
  • Add some to the pizza I am making tonight (see arugula).
  • Roast them with smashed potatoes and mushrooms
  • Saute some up in the stir fry (see boy choy).
And for those of you looking for a recipe that features ramp, I found this really good one from Cooking Light: Warm Potato Salad with Ramps and Bacon. This is actually a bonus recipe because it also uses some radishes. I would make it this weekend but I need to coordinate oven temps for my Mother's Day feast and this just wasn't going to work. 

Bok Choy (I think a stir fry is in order!): I am going to do a stir fry with chicken, ramps, mushrooms and broccolini. I have some Soyaki sauce from Trader Joe's and I will serve it over brown rice.

Radishes: I am going to slice these up and toss them with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 1 Tbsp of sherry vinegar and 1/4 tsp of Dijon mustard. I got the idea from Food and Wine magazine It's part of a larger salad but I am just going to serve it with the big green salad we will have on Mother's Day.

Chives: I learned last year that if you freeze chives right away, you will have fresh chive available whenever you need it. I threw mine in the freezer but I plan to use some on Monday to make a horseradish-chive sauce to go with a cedar-planked lemon-pepper salmon courtesy of Fine Cooking magazine. This is perfect because we got some Alaskan salmon from a friend a few weeks ago and we have cedar planks that we received as wedding gifts. 

Arugula: I love Arugula. Matter of fact, it's a staple in our house for salads. At first I was just going to use it for salads but we have so much other amazing salad mix, I decided to use it for my next favorite thing: pizza. Tonight we are going to make Asparagus and Ricotta Pizza topped with Arugula, recipe courtesy of Real Simple. This recipe pretty much combines all of my favorite things: pizza, arugula, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms and asparagus. I may just have to sub in some goat cheese for ricotta and this could be my new favorite meal. And as I mentioned, I will also be throwing on some ramps. 

Saute Mix- I think we are just going to saute this with some olive oil and have it with our salmon. 

Sorrel, Spinach, Lettuce Head, Salad Mix: Big green salad! I am going to try to make some homemade thousand island dressing because I know my mother doesn't like my Best Dressing Ever. I think she is a little crazy but it is Mother's Day. Thousand Island recipe will be include in the Mother's Day Feast post. Here is the recipe for my famous salad dressing:

Best Dressing Ever

1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup balsamic 
1/2 cup Dijon mustard

Combine, shake and enjoy. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

CSA Spring Share Week 1 Preview

Bok Choy (I think a stir fry is in order!)
Lettuce Head
Salad Mix
Saute Mix

Check back tomorrow for recipes and ideas on how I am going to use all of this delicious produce. :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Tacos

We rearranged our nights so I could post this before Cinco de Mayo. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine.  The tacos are light and perfect for a quick summer meal.

I used chicken from our roasted chicken but you could also use a rotisserie chicken. On a side note, it's so much easier to shred warm chicken than cold chicken. Maybe that's obvious to most people but this whole roasted chicken thing, totally new to me.

Chicken Tacos

Shredded Chicken
Roasted Poblano Peppers (instructions below)
Sour Cream 
Heavy Cream
Coleslaw Mix
Flour tortillas
Avocado (sliced)

1. Mix 1/2 cup of sour cream with 1-2 Tbsp of heavy cream.
2. Heat flour tortillas wrapped in damp paper towels in the microwave for thirty seconds.
3. Put poblano peppers, chicken, avocado, salsa, sour cream mixture and coleslaw mix into a tortilla. Enjoy!

Roasted Poblano Peppers

1. Move oven rack to the top position (closest to the broiler) and put the oven on Broil.
2. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place peppers on pan and put in oven. 
3. Monitor the peppers. Once they char on one side (approx. 5 minutes), flip them over so that all sides are charred.
4. Remove from oven and place peppers in a bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let peppers cool.
5. Remove skin and seeds. Slice into strips.

How to Roast a Chicken

I had several excuses of why I shouldn't roast the chicken. Besides, the "I'm terrified" excuse, I also end up eating lunch at 4:00. Why make dinner when I ate so late? Then I remembered that the important thing here was the trial run of Sunday's dinner so I poured some wine and faced my opponent.

After a half glass of wine, I was ready to tackle the project. The first baffling direction was to use a head of garlic, cut horizontally. I reread it a few times, eyed the garlic and then did my best to not cut off my fingers. Success.

Next I had to cut two slices of baguette and put them in the bottom of the pan. This would serve as the roasting rack.

There was no time for introduction and before I knew I was rubbing salt and pepper generously on the outside AND inside of the chicken. After the initial,"ewww," I got over it. To keep things sanitary, I poured some salt and pepper into a prep bowl for easy access. This was fine until I accidentally dumped the prep bowl on our newly cleaned hardwood floors. Sigh. I really try to keep the kitchen clean despite what Manatee thinks.

The recipe also mentioned that if the liver was included, to stick the liver of the chicken inside the chicken. So, I don't really know if there was a liver. Not really sure how to identify a chicken liver. I didn't take anything off of it, so I think I am good there. Liver or no liver, I got through that step. After jamming some fresh herbs and the bizarro half head of garlic into the chicken, I was ready to get it cooking.

Then came the frantic phone call to my mother. Do I use the cover of the Dutch oven or leave it uncovered? She advised covering it so I set up the oven so that I can monitor the handle of the Dutch oven. I am not worried as much about the chicken as my handle melting off and starting a house fire. Then of course, having to explain to Manatee when he gets home from his business trip how I managed to burn down the house in his absence.

Chicken is cooking..
The beauty of this recipe is that you let it cook for 90 minutes, uninterrupted. As it was cooking, I realized I had no idea what to do with the chicken after I took it out of the oven. I knew I let it rest for 5-10 minutes, but after that, I didn't know how to cut a whole chicken! Good thing this was a test run. Second frantic call to my mother was not helpful. "But you've bought rotisserie chickens?" I protested. "Rotisserie chickens just fall apart when you touch them." Not helpful mom, not helpful at all.

And Voila!

Golden, succulent roasted chicken. Success! After almost dropping it on the ground and discovering you really need two people for the transfer, I got the chicken on a makeshift platter. Notice there are no pictures of chicken post-cutting? It wasn't pretty. Will need to research carving a roast chicken before Sunday.
 Now Dorie promised that the bread from under the chicken would be the best part. 

And it was. I couldn't wait to try it as you can see from the picture. I didn't even need chicken after that! It soaked in chicken juices, wine, garlic. Heaven! 

I know I said I didn't need the chicken but I was really curious. Also, a dinner of bread soaked with chicken goodness probably wasn't the healthiest fare. So I sat down at 8:30 and had my trial dinner. While the chicken was cooking, I made some smashed fingerling potatoes and roasted mushrooms (recipe and post to come). As always, I finished the meal off with a spinach salad and my favorite dressing. It's going to be a great Mother's Day feast. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekly Preview: Roasted Chicken, Saffron and CSA

This is a time of transition for me and I realized I need to take some steps to retain a sense of familiarity. The Plan is back. For those of you new readers, I made it a goal months ago to plan our meals by the week. I highly recommend this for anyone who struggles with meal planning. Prior to this, I was trying to plan dinner at 3:00. This led to spending more money on food and not always making the healthiest decisions. Without further adieu, this week's plan:

Monday: Take out.
Okay, I know, I know. I just went on about how this can help with meal planning and making healthy decisions. Reality? I have a lot of work to get done today and I need to grocery shop and Manatee is away on business. I will be good tomorrow but today I need something hot and fast. That being said, take out for me is steamed chicken and vegetables with sauce on the side from the local Chinese place. I will make my own brown rice at home, if I want rice. No oil, no gummy sauces that gave you gut rot. Most Chinese places have a diet menu and if they don't, most will make you a steamed dish with no sauce if you ask for it.

Tuesday: Roast Chicken for les paresseux from Dorie Greenspan's "around my french table." 
Sounds fancy, right? It translates to Roast Chicken for the lazy. That's me. Well, actually I'm terrified, not lazy. I have never roasted a chicken before. This was one of my NYE goals and I am determined to brave through it. This is also an experiment for me. I grew up in a household where the only time we had roasted chicken was when we bought a rotisserie one at the store. This is sharp contrast to my mother-in-law who once butchered a chicken because she wanted to have it for dinner that night. In terms of my cooking, chicken has always been skinless, boneless chicken breasts. I have made chicken legs a few time but that always made me nervous. The idea of having to face a whole chicken, bones, skin and all? I kind of want to hide under the table.

Though I am terrified, I have a sneaking suspicion that it's easier than I think. I also would really like to serve it to my mom and mother-in-law on Sunday. They both love chicken and it feels fancier than serving chicken breasts.  I want to do a test run so I can sleep the rest of the week. I will definitely post before, during and after this cooking adventure. 

Wednesday: Paella.
I am going to adapt a recipe from Betty Crocker's "300 Calorie Cookbook." I am super excited to use my saffron threads. It will be my first experience with saffron and making any kind of paella.

Thursday: Chicken tacos.
I have to use up the shredded chicken some way, right?

Friday: CSA!!
This is the first week of our CSA and I am super excited. I will be doing posts centered on the CSA throughout the summer. Tune in Thursday and Friday for some CSA meal planning and recipes.
What's a CSA? Check out this previous posts on the beauties of Community Supported Agriculture.

Baking for the week: Berry-Cornmeal Pound Cake (courtesy of Martha Stewart). 
It's another test run for my Mother's Day meal. I don't have the anxiety as much as I want an excuse to have some around the house this week and to do some baking. As I always say, 'When the going gets tough, I get baking.' There is something really satisfying about starting with disparate ingredients and an hour later, having something totally different and totally appetizing. It's a great sense of accomplishment.

Hope you will check in throughout the week. If anyone has any tips for preparing roasted chicken let me know. I will be the first to admit that I don't know what I am doing but I am very eager to learn.

Happy eating!