Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Hearty Chicken Stew

I know it's been a while since I've written here...
I've cooked plenty, but between the time my camera was stolen and got replaced, I didn't take any pictures.

I've made do, however, with some cooking here and there though!!

Up today is a really easy, hearty stew. It's a rainy day- and I don't know about you, but on these kinds of days I want comfort foods that fill me up and make me feel better.
It's not something more elaborate, since my back's bothering me quite badly. (I've made the decision to have surgery to correct the problem, but that story can be found another day perhaps) We're here to talk FOOD!

Well, on days like this where it's difficult for me to be on my feet... Cooking has to be easy. Something I can either create and eat quickly, or let sit and cook and not require me to be standing right there watching, stirring, draining, etc.
What allows you to get away simply?
Well... You can either whip up a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich... OR...
Use a crock pot! One of the best inventions ever, I swear!
I have the one pictured below, and I love love love it.

Click the image to see more info and pricing from Hamilton Beach.

Ingredients are simple, and most likely things you already have in your pantry and fridge.

2-3 Boneless Chicken Breasts
* Can be made with 1 bouillon cube per cup of water
3-5 Cups Chicken stock
4 Large Potatoes
2 Medium Onions
Few Stalks of Celery (I didn't use it this time- not in my fridge!!)
2 Handfuls Baby Carrots
1 Cup Green Beans (optional)
1 Cup Corn Kernels
** I cheated today... I used frozen corn, carrots, peas & green beans mix
1 Cup Sweet Baby Peas
Garlic Powder- to taste
Cracked Black Pepper- to taste
2 tsp Celery Salt
3-6 Tbs White Flour (depending on how thick you want your stew)

Start off with 3 cups of chicken broth in the stock pot, turn on to high.

Half the onions, cut each section in quarters lengthwise, and then turn and cut in half. You should have "8" sections of onions from each half. These will cook down and not be quite so large- however, if you would like them smaller you certainly can chop them. After cutting each veggie, toss right into your crock.

Peel the potatoes, and cut into pieces that will fit on a spoon. You don't want them too small- they'll overcook and get mushy, or too large- they won't cook through. If you keep in mind how big the piece will be when scooped up out of the stew, this is a good indication of how big it you want the pieces to be.

If using baby carrots, toss them in whole. Regular carrots would need to be peeled and cut into about 2" pieces. Celery- same thing! In goes green beans and corn too- they need to cook and get that wonderful flavor to soak through in there!

Trim the chicken of extra fat and ligaments. I know not everyone likes to trim chicken- it's quite gross. But, if you don't want to, you don't have to. It just removes the little bit of "extra" fat that doesn't get removed. The ligaments don't always cook down or become tender- you know what I'm talking about. Those pieces that you try to chew through but can't... You're welcome for that visual! That's what the ligament is. So be kind to your stew and those that will consume it, and trim you chicken breasts!

**Tip: Chicken is easier to cut when partially frozen.
Trim the meat first, and pop into freezer for about 20 min.
Remove, and slice away!

Cube the chicken into about 1.5" pieces. You want these pieces a little smaller than the potatoes, so they can pick up the other veggies without any problems. Toss into crock pot with garlic powder, black pepper and celery salt. You may add other spices per your taste- a bay leaf, sea salt, celery seed, etc.

Cook on high for 2 hours, then turn down to low for another 3-4 hours. Add flour, and stir occasionally.

When stew is thickened up and chicken is thoroughly cooked, add the sweet peas (if they're fresh) and cook for an additional 20 minutes to soften. If they're already frozen, they're cooked! To serve, spoon into bowls and enjoy with some fresh baked and buttered rolls!

How's that for ultimate comfort food?!

I promise, when mine is finished cooking.... I'll post a picture!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Not Italian... But Japanese

Call me crazy if you like, it's alright.

I miss being around here! I've made the resolution that I will, indeed, get back in to my food-making and posting. I've missed it greatly. I haven't really had a chance to blog much in regards to my recipes and it's quite a missed subject.

So, because a friend today was teasing me about having sushi for lunch today, I had to share pictures of the last venture.

I love sushi. I eat it often. Except for lately- I just haven't had the time to throw some together. So in the meantime, I'll share some of the various kinds I've created. Most of these pictures are from when I was home during my Christmas 2009 break.

(sorry, I'm already drooling over this food!!!!)

Dad was the one that originally got me in to making sushi two years back. He tossed a mat at me and said "Wanna help?"

"Um... Ok!" I grabbed the mat, watched for a few minutes, and got to happily rolling myself.

Rice is essential. And how it's cooked is essential. You can't just boil a pot of water, and expect sushi rice in 45 minutes. No. No no no no. Not that easy.

Now, that being said, I'm an expert rice cooker. Never burned a pot of rice- ever. Not even on an electric stove (I promise to tell you about the risotto I make in another post...), not on a gas stove, not anything. Never. But... Cooking my sushi rice in a pot never turned out quite right. It was always a little too starchy, or too dry. Never just right.

Thank you again to my Dad, who bought me a rice steamer as an early Christmas Present. He had it shipped down to me back in August, after seeing numerous facebook posts and pictures about how many sushi parties I was having, and how it's such a hit amongst my friends. Let me tell you... I LOVE IT!


The rice comes out perfect each time... And you can pull little batches out so you don't have to mix it all at once and have the rice cool down too much while trying to put your sushi together. Oh, I also don't use Kokuho Rose Rice any longer... The best one I like working with now is Nishiki. It's a lot easier to mix, and spread over your Nori. All this talking of what to do, I think I'll have to thaw some sushi items and put together a tutorial...! Soon! I'm going home for little more than a week... Perhaps once I return! But I digress:

Cover your rice with a damp dishtowel.
Other than that, a bowl full of ice and cold water is needed.
A rolling mat, of course.
Saran wrap (which is folded over the mat to keep from getting dirty)
Nori (seaweed wrapper that holds your sushi together, roasted is the best kind!)
A good cutting board (bamboo is wonderful)
A good sushi knife (can be found at Asian markets!)
Various fish (tuna, shrimp, tilapia, crab, lobster, unagi/eel, salmon, etc)
Various vegetables (cucumber, avocado, carrot, asparagus, eggplant, etc)

All these materials can be combined to make some truly delectable, mouthwatering treats!
Remember- Sushi is anything that's wrapped in rice. Anything! I made a delicious pulled chicken teriyaki roll one night! You can go all fish, all vegetarian, all cooked- the combinations are endless! There's even recipes that you can make where the rice is a little sweeter, and fruits like kiwi, strawberries, and melons are used! Yum!
While waiting on the tutorial, here's a look at some of the rolls and Nigiri I've made.

From top corner clockwise:
Spicy Shrimp Rolls & Spicy Tuna Rolls.
Yellowfin or Shrimp that's chopped up, mixed with chopped scallions,
Japanese Mayonnaise and a touch of the Spicy Sriracha Sauce.

Unagi- Grilled BBQ Eel with Unagi sauce.
Mouthwatering, and it tastes like really good chicken!

This platter hosts a variety of seafood clockwise starting from:
Shrimp Nigiri- love those tails!
Philadelphia Rolls- Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese & roll it up!
Dragon Rolls (minus the avocado on the outside, it wasn't ripe enough...) Eel & Avocado.
Tobiko Tekka Maki- Yellowfin Tuna with Tobiko topping

Ok this platter had to be my favorite. Hands down.
I love all the other stuff just fine... But... I tried something new. Two things in fact!
Clockwise from the pink-ish roll:
Spicy Shrimp Roll- same as Spicy Tuna, just a fish difference. And SO delicious!
California Roll- Crabstick, cucumber, avocado, wasabi and roll it up!

And finally, but certainly not the last post about Sushi,
the entire amount of sushi we served for dinner...
Minus a few rolls my Mom and Sister scarfed while waiting for us to cut it all!
I love making sushi with Dad!

Don't forget! Serve with Soy Sauce & Pickled Ginger!!
Believe it or not... We couldn't finish all this food! We had great lunch a day later!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sushi Night!

Yes, yes I did it. Finally....

After living out of boxes for 2 weeks because the move was postponed, and being packed 2-3 weeks prior to that in prep for the move... I haven't made sushi in a while. Typically, I make it up to once or twice a week, just because I love it. So does my roommate. So do my friends. It's just a lot of work actually getting it done.


The good news is that the more you make it, the better you get at it.(Sometimes... I do find that rolls at times just don't want to cooperate, so I just don't let THOSE leave the kitchen!!)

Well, I've been in the new place a week. Unpacked quite a few of the kitchen things, and of course, one of the first to come out was the rice steamer!


I promised the people that actually showed up and helped my roomie and I move that I would make them sushi- so I figured heck, it's Shan's birthday as well... So I'm going to do both!

For her, I made an angel food cake in a special pan that I found. Flip them out, you've got a heart shape inside that you can put filling in to- it's neat. So in went some fresh sliced and mashed strawberries and coolwhip. Outside was more as frosting- so it wouldn't be too rich and fattening, and decorated with more sliced strawberries- delicious! (no pictures, I forgot!)

Now for the sushi- I made a lot. Epic amounts! The ones I have here pictured don't include the two additional platters I whipped up since they were still hungry... But this should suffice for now! I think a lot of what made it easier to make this time around is all new counterspace I now have in the new apartment! It's expansive! I have room to move! Plus, I tried a different way of prepping for dinner. I made the rolls first, then cut them all at once- instead of making one at a time, and then cutting each as I go along. It worked!


Spicy Tuna mixed and marinating in the bowl!


Just Roll With It!

From the foreground: Philadelphila Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll.
Philadelphia roll is Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Cucumber- wonderfully refreshing!
Spicy Tuna is Yellowfin, scallions, Japanese Mayo and Siracha Sauce mixed and marinated... Then rolled up! I like it because you can adjust how spicy or creamy you want the Tuna filling to be.


And here's a new one! It's Sesame Teriyaki Chicken. Oh was it gooooood! Different change of pace- but hey, sushi can be made with anything! I boiled a chicken breast, cut it into thin slices, and then drizzled Teriyaki marinade over it and let it sit for a few hours to infuse the flavor. A few drops of Sesame Oil- OH! Heaven!


This is another flavor packed one- Sunshine Roll: California Roll, with Smoked Salmon layered outside and drizzled with fresh tart lemon juice- oh so tasty!


And the tasty Dragon Roll- this one has got to be one of my personal favorites! Unagi (eel) and ripe avocado make up the inside filling, roll it up and top with more avocado. Top it off with Unagi Sauce and there you have it!


I also tried some new things with the Nigiri Sushi- I typically do shrimp, and snow crab. The crab drives me nuts though, because the pieces are so thin, and it's difficult to balance them on top of a skinny piece of rice... But I made a few. I also forgot that Yellowfin is absolutely delicious when it's served as Nigiri Sushi. Thinly sliced Tuna is packed full of flavor, it melts in your mouth like butter! And of course the Shrimp Nigiri is tucked into the center of the platter- nothing like sweet succulent shrimp!


And the new addition that will be at my table often now- Tilapia Nigiri. It's a very sweet, mild tasting fish, and I love it cooked (as you've seen from other recipes). I've just never actually had it as sushi. But the roomie picked some up at the store, of course it's especially prepared to be served as a sushi item- not just frozen fillets you buy to cook at home- and made nigiri. Drizzled with a bit of lemon- I'm telling you it absolutely is one of the best things I've tasted in a long time!!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tri-Cut Steak with Gorgonzola Bleu Cheese, And A Side Of Salad Thanks!

So I didn't think I'd actually do one of these again before the move... Which happens in three days... Yay!

I just found out I'm still sick with bronchitis, and the Doc says I have to basically take it easy. Stay quiet. I don't listen well... I'm used to getting things done, working, giving 150%. This is a hard blow to deal with. And, to share a bit of personal history for a moment, I'm a very severe asthmatic. They've lost me 3 times- but I thank whomever's upstairs for letting me stick around and continuing to forge my path through life. Essentially- when I get sick, either it's quick and over with... Or I get it really bad, and it hangs around forever. It seems that this case of bronchitis is one of those "let's hunker in and stay a while" colds. It's been 2 weeks, and I'm still running a low-grade fever, whistling when I breathe- hence the new nickname "Wheezy the 8th Dwarf" (lol), back on meds... BLAH BLAH BLAH. Enough. Let's get to food.

I had to pick up new meds from the pharmacy- and, well, since Wegman's is such a kick ass grocery store- I always end up poking around and buying a few things. Habit. Can't walk through that store and not pick something up.

Up today- a Tri-Cut steak.
Looks like a flank steak, but just in triangle form. Meh. Figured what the heck. Steak is steak is steak. Right?

Next on the list- Gorgonzola Bleu Cheese and a good Balsamic Vinegar. Also pick up a fresh roma tomato or two, a bunch of fresh basil, a bag of your choice of salad, a good sized chunk of fresh mozarella cheese, and a bottle of white balsamic vinegar. (It's a delicious alternative to the more robust, intense flavor of regular balsamic. You can, of course, use the regular kind for the salad dressing as well- I just like the milder flavor which compliments the mozarella, basil and tomatoes.)

Ok. Got home, tore right in to the steak! Yum!
Line a pan, that's just big enough to hold the meat, with saran wrap. Put the steak in, and drizzle with about 1/3 cup of the regular Balsamic Vinegar. You can also add McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning for a little extra flavor and kick- which I did!

This is what you should get:


Let the meaty goodness marinate for a few hours, flipping it over about every 1/2 hour or so... Or longer. Depending on how busy you are!
For the tastiest, fall apart, melt in your mouth steak- let it marinate for at least 24 hours. When you're ready to cook it, set your oven to Broil and line a roasting pan with the grate top with tinfoil- easy clean up! I'm a big fan of it!


Take out your meat, lay it on the foil and broil each side about 8 minutes for a medium done steak. Cook longer for more well done, or less for rare.

While it's cooking, dice up about 1/2 cup of the mozarella and a tomato in to little cubes. Take about 6 fresh basil leaves, and chop them up as well. Mix all together in a small bowl, and add about 1/3-1/2 cup of the White Balsamic Vinegar and 1/4 cup of Olive Oil. Mix well, and this is the tasty mix:


The steak should be done now, so go ahead and take it out and let rest for about 2 min to let the juices settle. Go ahead and put salad on the plates, sprinkle with a little of the gorgonzola cheese, and top with the mozarella/tomato mix. This is the dressing for the salad- you don't need another dressing!! Cut the steak in to good sized chunks, and sprinkle more of the gorgonzola over the meat.


The way the cheese gets all melty, and the balsamic flavor for the meat mingles with the mozarella, tomatoes and basil from the salad... MMMMMM!

This is what should grace your plate- what do you think?!?


15 Minute Tilapia and Shrimp Dinner

So maybe you don't know... But I'm a big foodie.
And it struck me tonight, that I don't have to just blog about my jewelry. I can talk about, and share recipes, for food as well!

Now I don't have kids- so there's no "rush" at dinnertime to get little ones fed. I have a bigger one to worry about. My roommate.

And... Since he took on the task of working a very different shift this month, it means different time dinners. Which is a bit daunting, considering that I work the 6am-3pm shift and I'm home early afternoon. Something quick, done in a flash, this definitely will work for you. Tilapia is a very mild tasting fish, and can be flavored very easily. It takes on the tastes of whatever you put with it... So it's great for those that don't like strong fishy flavors.

The recipe tonight:
Olive Oil
Lemon Pepper
Handful of medium shrimp
2-4 fillets of Tilapia
Fresh Salad and fixins to go in it

Turn your oven on, to 350 degrees.
Toss the shrimp in about a tablespoon of Olive Oil, and a few shakes of the pepper.
Line a good sized pan (I used a roasting pan) with tin foil and drizzle the bottom with Olive Oil. This will prevent the fish from sticking when you cook it. Lay the fillets in, drizzle with a little more Olive Oil, and season with the Lemon Pepper generously.

It should look something like this when you're done


Yes... I know, uncooked shrimp colors kind of eek me out too.
Once the food's in, time for 13-15 minutes. You'll know it's close to being done with the delicious aroma starts to fill the kitchen... Yes, you know what I'm talking about! Lemony goodness!
Remove from the oven once it's finished cooking, and let sit to cool off for about two minutes.

While you're waiting for it to cool, go ahead and put the salads together. I like to use bagged, just for ease.. But it all depends on what's a good deal. Chop up some cucumbers, tomatoes, any fresh veggies.

This is what I came up with tonight:


Wegmans is getting the plug tonight- since they're the local grocer for me! Once I put the food together, I went ahead and put a little of their Lemon Dill finishing butter on the fish. Honestly- it didn't need much. (easy to make- chop about 1 tablespoon of fresh dill to 2 tablespoons of softened butter)


So that was dinner tonight.

And I can't wait to make it again...
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