Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chicken Vindaloo

This is actually my menu from two weeks ago which I never got around to posting and it is a lot more exciting than the menu from last week. It is a nice mix of fresh summery meals and some heartier fare. This menu make lots of leftovers too (if you are only cooking for two). Enjoy!

Crockpot Chicken Vindaloo

I spotted this on foodgawker and followed the link over to Chaos in the Kitchen and can I just say, oh my.... It was delicious and tasted just like what we get from our favorite Indian restaurant in town. And the prep was easy as can be. I did vary things a bit, added a few more veggies and served with a brown basmatti rice. She has a recipe for garlic naan over there too which I was too lazy to make this time but definitely have on the list now. It sounds pretty easy and I have no excuse for not trying it.

Crockpot Chicken Vindaloo
makes 4 servings

1 onion, diced
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed to 1-2" lengths
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 small yellow potatoes, scrubbed and diced into 1/2" pieces
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
2 cups tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground mustard
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
fresh cilantro or parsley

Layer onion, green beans, peas, potatoes, chicken, garlic, and ginger in crock pot.

In a separate bowl, combine tomato sauce and all spices. Stir to mix well. Taste tomato sauce and salt as desired. Pour sauce mixture into crock pot.

Cover crock pot and cook on low 5 hours.

Before serving roughly chop a bunch of fresh cilantro or parsley and toss gently into crock pot.
Garnish with more cilantro or parsley and serve with basmati rice and garlic naan if desired.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Potluck Leftovers

The week began with a BBQ potluck at our house so I used some of the leftovers for a few of the meals on the menu. We had at least three bags of tortilla chips so we indulged and made nachos. There was also a bean salad left over so I mixed it with some brown rice to make a meal out of it.

Spaghetti with Three Tomato Sauce
Rice and Beans
Pork Chops with Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce


This recipe caught my eye in the middle of winter and I mentally filed it away for spring when I could get rhubarb. The sauce was sweet and tart and savory and made for a perfect complement to the pork. It think it would also be delicious on grilled chicken.

Pork Chops with Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce
from Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast
makes 4 servings

1/2 cup dried cherries
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup hot water
1 t plus 2 T olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
8-10 oz rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 1/2" pieces (2 cups)
3 T sugar
Pinch of ground nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-8 oz pork loin chops (1/2" thick)

Combine the cherries with the vinegar and hot water and set aside for 10 minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat 1 t oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the cherry mixture, rhubarb, and sugar; bring tot a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the rhubarb has softened, 5-8 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 t oil over medium-high heat. Cook the pork (in two batches if necessary to avoid crowding) until browned and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Serve topped with the warm sauce.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Take Two

I don't know exactly where to start so I am just going to jump in. Obviously I have been on a little break. The start of this year seemed to bring a lot of changes to my life and I just found this blog to be on the bottom of the list of priorities. But I have started to miss it and I have been thinking about how I could get back to it but in a less time intensive way. Beside the time issue I was feeling like, although I was still doing my menu planning and cooking a lot, I hadn't been making very many things that I hadn't already posted about here and I just don't think it is worth my time or yours for me to re-post recipes. So, in keeping with the spirit of the menu planning blog I think I have come up with a plan. I am going to be posting my weekly menu but only sharing recipes for anything new. I will try to do at least one new thing a week.

Grilled Chicken with Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Green Chili Breakfast Burritos
Grilled Burgers with Oven Fries
Pan-Broiled Porterhouse Salads


This salad evolved as I was making it. I had a porterhouse steak in the fridge because a friend of mine picked them up buy one get one free and didn't want both for himself. I have cooked steak a couple of times recently with mixed results. For this one I remembered a steak cookbook we have that Jer got as a gift from his sisters (since he is such a carnivore). It has a ton of great info on all the different cuts you can get and how best to cook each one. It said that for porterhouse most people think the best method is under the broiler but that most home ovens don't get hot enough to cook it properly. Instead he recommends cooking the steak in a very hot cast iron skillet. Here are the instructions I followed and it turned out really great.

1 porterhouse steak (about 1 1/4" thick)
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 T fresh thyme
2 T vegetable oil, plus more for the pan

Pat the steak dry and coat one side with half the pepper and half the thyme, pressing the seasonings onto the meat. Coat with 1 T of the oil. Turn over and repeat. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Very lightly coat the surface of a cast iron skillet (ridged of flat) with vegetable oil (wipe up any excess with a paper towel). Heat the pan over medium-high heat until the oil begins to smoke. Place the steak in the skillet and cook until seared and nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook for 5 minutes more for medium-rare of 6 minutes for medium.

Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Slice against the grain of the meat.

I served the meat atop a salad of baby spinach, hard boiled eggs, artichoke hearts, sliced red onions (which I cooked in the same pan I had done the steak in with a little balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper), and a creamy Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs. It turned out to be an immensely satisfying combination of flavors and textures.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The New Bathroom!

Okay, for those of you anxiously awaiting pics of the new and *vastly* improved bathroom (Mom and Twila) here are a few to tide you over. The color is pretty off here, it is actually a true teal (much more green than it looks here) and you may be able to pic out the few things left to do. We wouldn't be human if we finished it completely would we? What does Charlie say? Finish your house and die?

Well anyway, it is such a joy to have it (almost) done and hopefully it won't be too long before I can put the rest of the tools away.

What do you think?

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

One Year in the Saddle!

This week my blog is turning one! It's hard to believe it has been a year. One year ago I have to say I was a little freaked out. Jer and I had both just gotten our hours cut at work by 30% and I honestly wasn't sure how we were going to get by. We hunkered down though and Jer was able to pick up more hours a second job that he had held on to. I put myself into full study mode to plow through the remainder of my registration exams and I started doing this.

Although I still feel like a baby blogger, I have learned so much about the medium and I am excited to see how this will evolve over the next year. So far, if I can just get back to posting regularly, things are looking pretty bright.

Last time I posted we were just beginning to reconstruct our bathroom. Well, it's taken a little longer than expected but I'm happy to say that were are almost back to having a fully functioning and beautiful bathroom. You will understand my absence when you see what we have been through...

You will have to wait until next week to see the results. You won't want to miss it!


This recipe comes from Rachel Ray. I have mixed feelings about her and her food. I find that her recipes always need to be taken with a grain of salt, so to speak, because the amounts can sometimes be a little off. This is one I saw her making on her show quite a while ago and I put it on my ever growing "to make" list. It ended up being simple and flavorful, and it looks so pretty with all of the bright colors.

Honey Nut Chicken with BBQ Succotash
from Rachel Ray
makes four servings

For the Chicken:
2/3 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1 T grill seasoning blend
2 eggs
splash of whole milk
2 t hot sauce
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2-3 T vegetable oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pulse nuts, bread crumbs and grill seasoning in a food processor to combine. Pour onto a plate.
Beat eggs with milk and hot sauce in a shallow dish. Pour flour onto another plate.

Heat vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Dust both sides of the chicken with flour then dip into the egg mixture and coat with the nutty breading. Place in the pan and brown 2 minutes on each side until evenly light golden in color. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until juices run clear and breasts are cooked through, 12-15 minutes.

For the Succotash:
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 14 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1o oz. frozen corn
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
chives, parsley, scallions or cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers and cook 5 minutes. Add beans and corn and season with salt and pepper to taste. When corn is heated through and BBQ sauce. Stir to combine and garnish if desired.

This chowder has a long list of ingredients but they all play very nicely together. It is sort of a Northeast meets Southwest flavor combination.

Chicken and Corn Chowder with Chiles and Cheese
from Tasty Kitchen
makes 8 servings

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 green chiles (or 1 4oz. can) diced
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 14 oz. can creamed corn
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups skim (or 1%) milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 t cayenne pepper
kosher salt and black pepper

Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crispy. Remove and let drain on a paper towel. To the bacon drippings add the chicken, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the green chiles and cook an additional minute. Add the chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add frozen corn and creamed corn and stir well.

Place flour in a medium bowl and gradually whisk in the milk. Add the flour flour mixture to the soup and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in the grated cheese and cayenne pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with crumbled bacon and grated cheese if desired.

Lets just keep the chile theme going here a while. This is a Pioneer Woman creation and was as easy and delicious as she claimed it was.

Chile Relleno Casserole
from Pioneer Woman
makes 6-8 servings

8 whole green chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 1 2/ cup grated Monteray Jack cheese
5 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne.

Cut chiles in half and place half of them in a single layer on the bottom of a heavy 9x13 baking dish. Top the chiles with half of the grated cheese. Repeat with another layer of chiles and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until completely set.

Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Now this is what I call a man meal. Every time I make something like this I get a "Good dinner, Honey." from Jer. His highest compliment. He is a man of few words.

Strip Steak with Rosemary and Garlic and Baked Potatoes
from Real Simple
makes 2 servings

2 russet potatoes
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T fresh rosemary
1 T olive oil
1 1" thick strip steak
kosher salt and black pepper
sour cream

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and bake directly on the oven rack until tender, 45-55 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a shallow dish, combine the garlic, rosemary and oil. Add the steaks and turn to coat. Let marinate, turning once, for at least 30 minutes (up to 1 day in the refrigerator).

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. remove the steaks from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and season with 1/4 t each salt and pepper. Cook to desired doneness, 5-7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Wipe out the skillet and return to medium heat. Add the reserved marinade and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden, 2-3 minutes. Spoon over the slices steak and serve with the potatoes and sour cream.

This simple tomato sauce was simply perfect. It tasted like summer, and was even better on the second day. I still can't believe the incredibly simple list of ingredients.

Tomato Sauce
from Smitten Kitchen
makes four servings

28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (she recommends San Marzano but I am not sure if they are available everywhere)
5 T unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
salt to taste

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter into a medium sized, heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot. Remove from heat, discard the onion and add salt to taste.

Serve with your choice of pasta. I used a thin, whole wheat spaghetti.


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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekend Warriors

I am sitting here listening to the sounds of my handy husband and a plumber installing a new faucet in our shower and bathtub. The second step on the road to a new bathroom! Yesterday was demo day. It was dirty and tiresome but totally satisfying to tear out all of the old tile and plaster. We had planned on just doing the shower this weekend and saving the floor for another time but once we got into the demo we decided to just go for it and so far I am glad we did. Ask me how I feel on Tuesday morning though, when it is time to go back to work and we have no shower. In the end it will be great to have it all fresh and new. Maybe I will post some pics here to show you all the before and after.

Lets get on to the menu. Like I said, I have been cooking a lot. It has been pretty hardy, winter type food. The type that warms you up at the end of a cold day.

This is basically the same as the butternut squash version I posted about here in the Fall but this time I opted for a frozen package of squash and the butternut they had was full of margarine and other non-desirable things but the winter squash was just winter squash so I went for that. I have to say, at first I didn't like it quite as much but it mellowed out as it sat and the leftovers I had for lunch the next day were delish.

Chicken and Winter Squash Risotto
modified from This Week for Dinner
makes 4-6 servings

1 12oz package frozen winter squash, thawed
2 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper, sauteed in olive oil and cut into bite size pieces
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio Rice
1 cup dry white wine
pinch nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T butter
1 t fresh thyme leaves

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and toast, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the it is absorbed, 2-3 minutes.

Add two ladles of the warm chicken broth to the rice and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat adding two ladles at a time until all of the liquid is absorbed. If the rice is not completely tender continue to add hot water, 1/2 cup at a time until rice is cooked through.

Stir in the squash, nutmeg, thyme, salt and pepper to taste and let cook two minutes. Add the chicken, cheese and butter and stir until melted.


These were so easy to make and really fantastic. After I made them I couldn't stop thinking of all the delicious variations you could do. Yesterday we made another batch but with breakfast fillings. Mine had scrambled eggs, onions, green peppers and turkey sausage. Jer just went for the eggs sausage and cheese.

Pork and Sweet Potato Turnovers
modified from Real Simple
make 4 servings

1/2 lb ground pork
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sweet potato grated
2 cups baby spinach
kosher salt and black pepper
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown the pork with the garlic over medium-high heat until cooked through. Add the sweet potato and spinach and cook until the spinach in wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut each pastry sheet in half and place 14 of the filling on half of each piece. Fold the top over the filling and press along the edges to seal.

Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes.


Jer has recently decided that he loves cooked carrots (especially if they are roasted) so I have been looking for ways to incorporate them into our meals. This came from the Martha Stewart Great Food Fast Cookbook (I got it from my Mom for Christmas). It is great book, I like that it is organized by season and the recipes are simple and strait forward. It also has really enticing photos of all of the recipes in the book.

Oven Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Rice Pilaf
modified from Great Food Fast
makes 4 servings

4 chicken breasts
1 lb carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut diagonally into 1/2" chunks
6 cloves garlic, quartered
1 medium red onion, halved and cut into 1/2" wedges
kosher salt and black pepper
rice pilaf for servings (I made one from a box)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the carrots, garlic and onion around the chicken; season everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve with rice pilaf.

This was another from the Martha Stewart book. Well it started out that way but as I got into it, it quickly became one of those meals where nothing seams to be working right and it became something entirely different than what it set out to be. The main problem was that I thought I had hoisin sauce sauce but when I went to dig it out of the depths of the fridge it was no more (probably the victim of a clean sweep of the refrigerator one day when I couldn't find what I was looking for). I looked online to see if I could make it from things I had in the pantry and sure enough there were several recipes. I came up with something based on what I did have but then, when I made it, it came out very thin. That was when I gave up on the plan and started flying by the seat of my pants. Here is what came out of the fog.

Hoisin Pork with Pineapple
makes 4 servings

For the Hoisin Sauce:
4 T soy sauce
2 T peanut butter
1 T honey
2 t white vinegar
1/8 t garlic powder
2 t sesame oil
20 drops hot sauce
1/8 t black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and set aside.

For the pork:
1 pork tenderloin, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 pineapple cut into 1" pieces
1 T vegetable oil
1/4 t fresh ginger minced

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pineapple and cook until they start to get a little char on them. Add the pork and cook until cooked through. Pour in the hoisin sauce and ginger and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Serve over rice.


This was supposed to be a weekend project but I didn't get to it last weekend. I had all of the ingredients so I decided to take it on on Monday. It took me two hours and the entire time I was doubtful they were going to turn out, but in the end they were a total success and I think next time they may even be a little quicker too.

Chinese Dumplings
from Fine Cooking (check out the Feb/March '10 issue for great step-by-step photos and variations on the filling and cooking method)
makes 36 dumplings

For the filling:
1 cup napa cabbage, finely chopped
kosher salt
6 oz ground pork
4 oz. shrimp, peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 T Chinese rice wine
3/4 T grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 t soy sauce
1 t sesame oil
1/4 t granulated sugar
1/4 t black pepper

In a medium bowl. toss the cabbage with 1 t salt and set aside for 30 minutes to shed moisture. Wring out in a clean kitchen towel to extract as much moisture as possible.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. (You can prepare and refrigerate the filling up to 8 hours ahead.)

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour: more for kneading
1/2 cup cold water

Put the flour in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the water. Stir first with a spoon and then with your hands. If the dough remains in shreds, sprinkle in additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it begins to stick together. Don't ass too much water or the dough will be difficult to work.

Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour and knead the dough for 5 minutes to form a smooth, firm, elastic ball. The dough should not be sticky and should bounce back when pressed lightly.

Divide the dough in half with a benchknife and roll into two 6" logs. Sprinkle each evenly with four and, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. (At this point you can cover the dough with plastic and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. return to room temperature before rolling.)

Cut each log in half crosswise. Cut each half crosswise into thirds, then slice each of those pieces into three even pieces. You should have 36, equal size, pieces. Toss the pieces in four and cover with a clean towel so they don't dry out.

Roll each piece of dough into a thin 3" circle. Spoon 1-2 t of the filling onto the dough circle, fold it in half and seal by pinching at the center of the curved edge and then pleat toward the center on both sides to create a rounded belly.

Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. As you work arrange the dumplings on a plate in a single layer without touching, so they won't stick together.

To pan-fry the dumplings for pot-stickers heat 2 T vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working quickly (in batches if necessary) arrange the dumpling, belly side down in the skillet. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 1-2 minutes. Pour in about 1/2 cup water, enough to come about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the dumplings, bring to a boil, cover, and cook until all of the water has been absorbed, 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the dumplings are dry and crisp on the bottom, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate, browned side up, and serve with a dipping sauce.

Soy dipping sauce:
3 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 t granulated sugar
1/2 t hot chile oil or sesame oil
1 small scallion, thinly sliced.

Combine first four ingredients. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in scallion.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I am still here.

Just a quick post to say I have not fallen off the face of the planet! I have been cooking like crazy latley but have not been able to motivate to post about it. Not to worry though, this weekend I will be back with an actual menu!

See you all soon,

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