August 25, 2017

Finally Friday: tales of the veggies

Have I complained before about being terrible at side dishes and vegetable dishes? If I haven’t, here’s my declaration – I absolutely struggle to get a side dish on the table for every dinner for balanced meals. I hate cooking veggies. Too often, the effort required to make a GOOD side veg is more than I can manage, and the plain veggies are yukky. So I’m proud to share 4 quick and easy veggies that I’ve made the past few weeks!

All of them involve a dash of garlic salt and onion powder, and a saute pan, and pretty much the same cooking style.

Broccolini or fresh veggies

Ingredients

Half pound broccolini
Spices

Directions

This was my first time cooking broccolini so the timing is a little iffy, but here goes: Heat oil in a saute pan at medium heat. Toss the freshly washed broccolini in and cover with the lid for about a minute. Note: I deliberately toss the veggies in when they’re still wet, I like the nice blackened bits effect it has.

Flip the broccolini over, cover again and leave it to steam itself for another 2 minutes. If you like your veggies softer, leave them in longer. I like mine to have some crunch. Plate the broccolini and sprinkle with both the salt and powder.

I’ve done this with: snow peas, regular broccoli crowns, and Chinese broccoli with shredded bamboo shoots. ALL GOOD.

Frozen veggie medley

Ingredients

All frozen:
Green beans
Edamame
Corn
Bell peppers
Peas
Spices

Directions

When you have nothing fresh on hand, only frozen, this works pretty well! Heat oil in saute pan on medium heat, throw in all the veggies except peas and cover immediately. Give it about a minute and half, toss the veggies. When they look like they’re softening, toss again and add the peas for a minute.

Spice with a light hand, these veggies are lovely when they’re allowed to shine.

:: Does anyone do better than I do with vegetables? Please share! 

 

 

July 14, 2017

Finally Friday: chicken noodle soup

Homestyle! My insistence on making the first part of this in the tiny Le Crueset meant that I have to add a box of chicken broth which totally changed the taste.

I didn’t make that mistake with the second and third soups.  Note, I’ve started making the soups smaller and simpler because my soups always turned into thick stews. Play with these proportions to get the right level of soupiness or stewiness for your taste.

Ingredients

8-10 cups of water
1 finely diced onion
2 lbs of chicken or 6 thighs/legs
1/2 cup barley
1 finely cubed carrot
1 finely cubed zucchini
Salt and pepper, to taste
Minced cilantro for garnish if that’s your thing

Directions

Remove skin and fat from bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks. Poach the chicken for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through, then remove it to cool in a serving bowl. Strain the water into a bowl, and put it back in the pot. Set the broth to boil on low, with a dash of salt, plus diced onions and barley for another 20 minutes.

Add carrots and zucchini to the pot, cook for another 6-8 minutes on a low boil. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper if it’s needed.

In a separate pot, cook your pasta shape of choice. Our current favorite is ditalini – tiny tubes! Drain this pasta and toss with some olive oil so it doesn’t stick, set aside in a serving bowl.

Shred the cooled chicken.

Voila! Ready to serve!

Put some chicken and noodles in the bowl first, then pour the veggie soup over the top. Garnish with cilantro if you like it.

May 19, 2017

Finally Friday: Slow cooker garlic pork shoulder blade

Every time I question what kitchen implements we REALLY need, the slow cooker reminds me that it earns its keep. This recipe was fantastic. Loosely translated: ridiculously easy, and cheap since we found the pork shoulder blade on sale for $1 a pound. That never happens around here! I bought four.

Ingredients

5 lb pork shoulder blade

1.5 tsp salt
2 tsps dried oregano
.25 c olive oil
8 minced garlic cloves*

Directions

*I would have done many more but I just didn’t have the oomph. I’m considering buying prepeeled garlic so that I can have all the garlic I want without collapsing.

Combine the salt, oregano, garlic, and olive oil, cover all sides of the pork and marinate overnight if you have time. I started this too late to marinate it, so I just popped it in on High for 5 hours and voila!

That was really all there was to it. It was great served on rice with steamed broccoli, or shredded for burritos and tacos. We have an abundance of guacamole this month and we’re having tacos most nights. It’s been pretty awesome.

April 21, 2017

Finally Friday: my brownie bites recipe

My very own brownie bites! This recipe happening at all was the ultimate in exciting for me – I haven’t had the energy to bake a dessert in years!

When I do scrape together enough energy, it first going toward getting all my work done, then for making dinner, and getting JuggerBaby fed and settled into bed.

Last summer, well, last strawberry season more accurately, I managed to bake something tasty that’s nearly dessert-like (strawberry bread!) once every couple of weeks thanks to simplifying the recipe to the least possible required motion. There was no great reward for being efficient.

This one, though, was purely for me. Also for PiC, because I share with him, but mostly me.

It was both time intensive and energy intensive – I almost junked the plan altogether because of the very first step that seemed like way too much trouble. PiC was shocked when I hauled out the butter anyway and got cracking. There’s something to be said for being motivated by your cravings.

I’d share a photo but is anyone surprised that they were all devoured before I remembered to take one?

Ingredients

1/2 pound unsalted butter
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, unless you want an extra dose of chocolatey goodness, in which case, add 6 ounces of chocolate chips
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, chocolate chips, and peanut butter in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir (no beating) together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar.

Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature. Take a half hour break, I’d say.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, add 6 ounces of chocolate chips here if you want this to be sweeter, then add them to the chocolate batter.

Pour into the muffin tin.

Bake for 20 minutes, rap the tin, then bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool thoroughly before digging one out and chowing down, with a glass of milk.

Afterthoughts

This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe. In keeping with my cooking style, these actually aren’t outrageous at all because we’re old fuddy duddies who don’t want diabetes. But they’re delicious!

I cut the original recipe in half to make a dozen muffin-brownies, and replaced the sugar with peanut butter to reduce the straight sugar a little bit, so they’re not truly bite-size either but who’s complaining? Not I, said the brownie for breakfast eater.

I buttered the muffin tin but I forgot to flour it. BIG mistake. Never mind, these weren’t for show anyway, they were for eating!

I left out the coffee, 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, and 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate. It might have been a mistake but we weren’t missing anything. Next time I’d increase the peanut butter, though, that flavor would be awesome.

April 7, 2017

Finally Friday: easy balsamic-honey chicken recipe

I’ve been crap at putting recipes down these days, life has been keeping me running and adding another post in the week is oddly much more difficult that I expected.

This is a quick one that I threw together.

Ingredients

Small head of broccoli
Half a pound of green beans
3 chicken thighs, bone-in

Glaze
Half a cup of blush wine dressing
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Directions

Saute the cut up green beans and broccoli on medium heat for about five minutes in the dutch oven. Remove the vegetables, then saute the chicken in a little oil on medium heat until cooked nearly through. Remove the chicken, and cook the glaze ingredients for a few minutes until it reduces to a thicker sauce. Place the chicken back in the glaze for few minutes, on low heat, and cook through. Add the vegetables back to the pot, and toss to coat with the glaze.

Serve with rice of your choice – we went with brown.

Afterthoughts

I made few mistakes with this one – I put the vegetables back in the pot with the chicken at the same time, not thinking about the time it would take to cook the chicken through, so they were softer than I liked. Of course, it then turned out that JuggerBaby likes zir vegetables unadulterated by such plebian things as sauces so they were roundly rejected.

Also, three small bone-in thighs just aren’t enough for our family, even supplemented with a huge pile of vegetables and brown rice, so next time I’d double the chicken but this makes plenty of sauce to go around even if I do that.

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