Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cincinnati Chili (5-Way)

I learned about this when I was looking for a job way back when.  I'd never heard of doing spaghetti like this until I came across this in an Ohio restaurant.  Wild!!  So different - I like to do this every now and then, just to mix it up!  The list of ingredients is kind of long - but don't let that intimidate you - they are common spices you should have in your pantry.  You're basically making a southern Mediterranean beef and tomato sauce - the taste reminds me of Greek Pastitsio. Think of this as a raid on the "C" section of the spice cabinet!!  

Cincinnati Chili: 3, 4, or 5-Way

You can measure the spices into a small bowl while your beef browns.
(NOTE:  Speed things up!!! See my "Cooked Beef" comment on the "Hints" page!)

1.5 lbs ground beef
2 T oil
2 cloves garlic
2 chopped onions
2 T chili powder
2 T sweet paprika
1.5 t cumin
1 t allspice
1/2 t ground coriander
1.5 t cinnamon
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t cloves
1 6 oz can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 T unsweetened chocolate, chopped up a bit
1 T cider vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
12 oz cooked spaghetti
1 19 oz can red kidney beans
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef in one skillet (drain off any fat).  Soften 1 cup of the chopped onions in oil over med heat in oil in another skillet - about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook 1 min.

Add the chili powder. paprika, cumin, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and cloves. Continue to cook 1 min.  Stir in the browned beef and continue to cook.  Add some S/P.

Add the tomato sauce, the tomatoes, bay leaf, 1.5 c water and simmer 30 min.

Add the chocolate, vinegar, and Worcestershire and cook another 15 min.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to directions.

Heat the beans.

Pull out the bay leaf from the sauce and discard.

Note:  I brown the beef in my pressure cooker, drain, then add everything else except the spaghetti, beans, second cup of chopped onion, and cheese and just pressure cook it for 15 minutes (remember to pull out that bay leaf afterwards.)  The sauce is done by the time the pasta is cooked!

Divide the cooked pasta into serving bowls and top as follows:
3-way:  Spaghetti topped with chili and cheddar cheese
4-way:  Spaghetti topped with chili, then chopped onions, then cheddar cheese OR
             Spaghetti topped with chili, then chopped beans, then cheddar cheese
5-way:  Spaghetti topped with chili, then chopped onions, then beans, then cheddar cheese

If you have kids you're serving, cut back on the cayenne.  Kids' taste buds are much more sensitive than our old over-used ones!!


I usually double the batch on this and freeze portions of it for use on Coney Island hot dogs or later 5-Way meals.   Note:  putting chocolate in sauce like this is very "Mexican" - chocolate and tomatoes are the base for "mole" sauces - very yummy!!

And the winner this week is SaFr - Great detective work!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Time-Saving/Healthy Hints

Time-Saving/Healthy Hints 

for Hoomans and Furends, Alike:

If you have a good time-saver hint - add it to the comments!!

BONE BROTH:  I've begun making bone broth for my old kitty:  If I can't talk my butcher out of meat bones, I'll look for shanks or cross cuts of beef when it's on sale.  (Sometimes you just have to prowl the meat case...)  OR I'll pick up chicken thighs when they go on sale for chicken broth.

I load up my biggest crockpot (6 qts), and COVER the meat and bones with water, then toss in 2T Bragg's vinegar (that's the raw, unfiltered stuff - very good for you - try stirring a T in 16 oz of water every morning - you can find it in the health food aisle).  I let that simmer away on low for a full 24 hours.  The vinegar leeches out the minerals from those bones.

Strain the contents (colander and 3 layers of cheesecloth).  If there is any meat, I pick through what was in the strainer.  The meat goes into the food processor for homemade kitteh-foods.  I add a T of it to his commercial stuff to tempt his appetite.

The liquid goes in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, there will be a layer of fat on the top.  I skim that off and chuck it away.  What's left is like semi-set Jello (that's all the collagen and good stuff from those bones).  I scoop that into ice cube trays and freeze.  The munchkin gets a cube of frozen broth (which he usually lets melt before he'll go near it) on a little dish next to his regular food dish on alternate days.

COOKED CHICKEN:  You can come up with all sorts of things in a flash for dinner if the chicken is already cooked!!  Pressure cooker or slow cooker to the rescue!  When chicken breast and/or thighs are on sale, I stock up.  They come home and get tossed into the CP or PC with a couple of carrots, an onion, peeled and sliced in half, 4 stalks of celery, and some parsley.  Occasionally, if I see a single lonely leek, I'll buy that and toss it in, too.  Cover with water  (in the pressure cooker, be very aware of that 'maximum fill' line), some S/P, and let 'er rip.  I do 12 minutes in the pressure cooker on high pressure and at least 6 hours in the crock pot.)  Either cut the chicken into cubes or shred it.  Measure it out in 1 cup portions and freeze.  Save that broth!!!  Strain it, let it sit overnight in the fridge and de-fat it the next day.  Then measure it out in 1/2 c portions (or use an ice cube tray!) and you won't have to purchase chicken broth again.

COOKED GROUND BEEF:  I am having severe sticker shock attacks when I go to purchase ground beef these days.  So when it's on sale, I buy a BIG package (even for little ol' single me) and throw the entire package in my big crockpot.  That's it!! Throw it in, turn the crock on to low and let it cook 3 hours.  Give it a stir to break it up and cook another 3 hours.  Stir it again and drain the fat away (colander and cheesecloth), then divide the beef up into packages and freeze.  Waiting for beef to thaw so you can break it up and cook it takes too much time.  Cook it AHEAD of time and dinners come together much faster!

CACHE POT:  My brilliant mother kept a large container in the freezer to catch leftover vegetables. Butter for veggies was put on top of the vegetables on your plate, so the veggies in the serving dish were just veggies (and maybe some cooking liquid) - no butter, no sauce.  The liquid in the pan and the leftover veggies got tossed in that cache pot each night.  When it was finally full, she made vegetable soup.  A beef bone, 1 large tin of tomatoes, some beef broth, and contents of the cache pot were put on to simmer all day.  A half hour before serving, she tossed in a can or two of red kidney beans that had been drained and rinsed, and some pasta - whatever was on hand - as an additional "filler" to keep hungry kids quiet. If the grocery budget was a little flush that week, we got a loaf of Italian bread.  And some nights - she turned that into garlic bread.  We thought we ate like kings!!!  Now when I think of the nutritional value of that soup, I know we DID eat like kings!!

COOKED PASTA:  The next time you cook pasta, even if you're just cooking for one, cook the entire box!!  Drain the pasta and toss it with 1-2 teaspoon of olive oil, depending on how much you have.  After you're through with your meal, measure the plain cooked pasta into freezer bags (I do individual servings) and freeze.  Microwave the frozen cooked pasta to reheat it. The pasta keeps in the freezer at least one month.  This saves water, energy, and most importantly, your time while waiting for another pot of pasta to cook!!!!

Friday, August 28, 2015

"Dump Chicken"

I'm going to keep adding to this list as I find my recipes!!!  I love my crock pots almost as much as I love my pressure cooker.  Time-saving in the kitchen and money-saving in the wallet!

I have a small bag holder I use to make filling the bags easier.  You can also just stand the bags up in an oblong juice pitcher (or repurpose your Brita water pitcher!)

It's easiest to make several meals at a time.  Just measure out the ingredients into small dishes so all you have to do is dump the ingredients in, zip, mix, flatten.  Try each meal as a single first to see if you like it.  Then you can make multiples of the ones you like.  They keep well in the freezer for a few months.  

Dump Chicken Crock Pot Meals

freeze in freezer ZipLoc Bags - flatten them out after filling. Freeze them in singles, flat, then file them like books in the freezer.

Hurry Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1/2 c ketchup
1/4 c water
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
3 T dry onion soup mix

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
6 hours crock pot low temp

I like this one with rice pilaf.

Lemon Garlic Chicken
4 chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 T olive oil
2 T fresh parsley
3 T lemon juice
1/4 t pepper

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
6 hours crock pot low temp

Pasta and a salad

Canton Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1/2 c ketchup
1/4 c honey
1/4 c soy
2 T lemon juice

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
6 hours crock pot low temp

Sticky rice and pea pads and broccoli

Stickin' Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 T soy sauce
3 T peanut butter
3 T ketchup

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
6 hours crock pot low temp

splurge and get some oriental noodles to go along with this one, team up with steamed veggies

Honey Sesame Chicken
1 lb chicken cut into chunks
3T olive oil
1 cup honey
1/2 c soy sauce
!T sesame seed oil
1 t salt
1 t pepper

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
Shred chicken after cooking 6-8 hrs low in crock pot
Serve in lettuce wraps and some steamed broccoli

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans
3-4 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves
1 can drained black beans
1/2 chopped red onion
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 T olive oil
1 t cumin
3 T lime juice or 1 medium lime, juiced
1/2 bag frozen corn

Serve with Mexican rice and some sliced avocado

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
cook6-8 hrs low in crock pot

Maple-Mustard Chicken
3-4 lbs chicken thighs
mix together, then pour over chicken:
1 T red wine vinegar
1/4 c maple syrup
1/2 c dijon mustard

good with rice or quinoa and steamed veggies

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
cook 6-8 hrs low in crock pot

Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks
3 T coconut oil or olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3T soy sauce
1 T honey
8 drumsticks - or use boneless chicken thighs

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
cook 6-8 hrs low in crock pot

Good with rice and steamed vegetables

Cafe Rio Chicken
4-6 chicken breasts
1/2 c water
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small bottle Italian dressing
1 packet of Ranch seasoning
1/2 T chili powder
1/2 T cumin

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
cook 4-6 hrs low in crock pot

Shred the chicken after cooking.
Serve with Mexican rice, refried beans and flour tortillas

Sweet Barbecue Chicken
8-9 boneless chicken thighs
1/2 bottle barbecue sauce
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c vinegar
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1 t garlic powder

zip, mix, get the air out of the bag.
cook 4-6 hrs low in crock pot

Pick up some potato salad and cole slaw at the deli to round out your meal.

Honey Garlic Chicken
1 1/4 lbs chicken breast
1/2 c steak sauce
1/4 c honey
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t tabasco

Mix the wet ingredients and pour over the chicken.  Cook on low 8 hours.  Shred the chicken and let it cook in the sauce the last 1/2 hour.

Chicken Soft Tacos
1 packet taco seasoning
1 c chicken broth
1 lb boneless chicken
1/2 c salsa

Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Serve in soft tortillas with guac, chopped tomato, lettuce and cheese, sour cream

"Loose" Cheeseburgers
1 1/2 lb browned, ground beef (fat drained)  *see tips page for keeping browned beef in the freezer
3 cloves garlic minced
1/3 t salt
1/2 t pepper
8 oz Velveeta, cubed
2 T milk
1 finely chopped onion

Place all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low 5-6 hours
Serve on pretel buns or regular hamburger buns

Chinese Orange Chicken
4-5 chicken breast
3/4 c orange marmalade
3/4 c Sweet Baby Ray's Original BarBQ sauce
2T soy soauce

Cook chicken on high 3 hours.
Drain, then dice the chicken.
Add the rest of the ingredients - cook on high 30 minutes

Serve over rice and with steamed broccoli.

Pulled Pork
2 lbs prok shoulder or tenderloin
1 can root beer
1 bottle barbecue sauce

Cook pork and root beer on low 6-8 hours
Drain and shred
add barbecue sauce and cook another 30 min- 1 hour

Serve on toasted rolls with mac and cheese and cole slaw

Breakfast Risotto - great for cool fall mornings!
4 granny smith apples peeled and sliced
2 c apple juice
2 c water
2 1/2 c Arborio Rice (important - use arborio only)
1/4 c brown sugar
1 1/2 t cinnamon
13 t salt
1 t vanilla
1/8 t cloves
18 t nutmeg
14 c butter, sliced

Spray the inside of your crock with cooking spray.  Dump in all ingredients and stir.  Cook on low 8-10 hours (perfect overnight timing!!)  Give it another stir before serving.  Nice served with a cup of plain or vanilla yogurt on top, too.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Corn, Corn, and More Corn!!

This is too funny!  I'm surfing around the web because I can't get motivated to go get something to eat (I have to stop doing those late lunches...) and I find this:

16 Amazing Recipes for Grilled Corn:

1. Mexican:  smothered in sour cream, mayo, Parmesan and chili powder
2. Grilled corn fritters
3. Grilled corn salad
4. Grilled cheddar-bacon corn on the cob
5. Grilled corn mango salsa
6. Manchego grilled cheese sandwiches with corn, jalapenos and chili butter
7. Grilled corn and potato chowder
8. Black bean lettuce wraps with grilled corn
9. Corn on the cob - 3 ways: Mexican, curried, and honey butter
10. Grilled corn and poblano chili queso (dip)
11. Grilled corn with Sriracha scallion butter
12. Bean burgers with grilled corn and pesto
13. Cheesy roasyed corn on the cob
14. Grilled corn and avocado salad
15. Grilled corn on the cob with cilantro pesto
16. Spicy Asian grilled corn on the cob

Here's the link to all the recipes!!  Get shuckin'!!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tapas Night (Spain) Bonus Menu

This assortment would take more time than I have at the farm to cook, but I wanted to include them in the blog.

When I was traveling with NEA, I was able to discover some pretty interesting restaurants in different cities around the country.  A few friends and I stumbled into a tapas bar in San Diego and we've been hooked ever since.  (And the peach sangria in the tapas restaurant on 7th Ave in Washington DC is REALLY good!!)

Two or three times a year, I will take a Sunday afternoon and make up a bunch of tapas and then graze on them ALL week.  That is one of the perks of living alone - spend one cooking session and you're stuck with that food for DAYS!!  (But dinner for the next several nights is done!)

They really are easy and a family could have a great time putting a few of these recipes together for a "Tapas Night".  You could round out the menu with some rice and a salad, if you want to balance things out.  Throw some fruit in white grape juice and a little club soda for a kid-friendly sangria.  And if you make real sangria for the big people, beware of the fruit at the bottom of the pitcher - it absorbs the alcohol!!  It's really good.  Really, REALLY good!  But lethal. (Especially when the hotel is about 12 blocks away.)

Tapas are supposed to be a lot of variety in many different "little bites".  You'll notice there are some cold, some at room temp, some warm, and some hot.  The idea is to mix it up. Have fun with these.  

TAPAS - Teach's Favorites

Melon Pintxos (easy for kids to make)
Skewer a melon cube with a slice of ham on a chunk of crusty bread rubbed with a little oil. Or skip the bread entirely - up to you.

Stuffed dates (my favorite!!)
Cut a sliver in a pitted date.  Fill with bleu cheese or goat cheese.  Wrap with a short strip of pre-cooked bacon and secure that with a toothpick.  Heat in the oven until the bacon is crispy.

Olives - many of them, both salty and mild (kids can dish them out)

Pickles or hot peppers.

Chunks or slices of different cheeses (kids can handle this with a cheese slicer)

Marinated mushrooms (these, too!)

Small meatballs in sauce (older kids who can handle the stove can do these)
I just use frozen minis and jarred sauce - which I then serve along with the tortilla

Shrimp in garlic sauce Each 3 shrimp you cook deserve 1 clove of garlic.  (I talked a cook out of this recipe by guessing how much garlic he used):
Cook shrimp in about a half inch of water with a few whole cloves thrown in and some salt.  Simmer until the water is reduced to about 1/4 inch.  Strain the cooking liquid (don't throw out).
Saute the garlic slices in olive oil with some crushed chili pepper.  Add the shrimp and the cooking liquid that you saved and simmer a few minutes.
(note: an easy way to peel an entire bulb of garlic:  Break off the cloves.  Slice off the ends of each clove.  Drop them all in a jar.  Screw on the lid and shake the living daylights out of them.  The skins will slip right off.)

Hard-cooked eggs - cut in half and top with a caper, a piece of anchovy or tuna, or a slice of pimiento  (One of the easiest ways to peel an egg is to place cooked eggs and some water, right after flash-cooling the eggs in ice cold water, back into the pan.  Cover with a lid and shake them gently.  The shells will peel off easily.  And cook the eggs with a T of baking soda in the water - that helps get rid of those pesky shells, too!)

Spanish tortilla (potato and egg pie (this is basic pub food)
1 pound of potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin (I use a mandoline or my food processor to speed things up)
i onion, sliced thin (ditto)
1 clove garlic, minced
4 eggs
dash milk
5-6 T olive oil

In a skillet heat the oil, and saute the potatoes, onions, garlic, S/P for about 15 min.  Give them a good stir now and then - you want them golden, not burned.

Place the potato/onion mixture into a colander over a bowl to drain excess oil.

Mix the eggs and milk with S/P in a large bowl.  Add the potato mixture and let rest for a minute.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet and press the potato/egg mixture into the pan, flattening out any potato slices that are sticking up.  Cook a minute on medium heat, then turn the heat to low. Watch for the egg mixture at the top to get done - it may take up to 20 minutes depending on how much you cooled the potatoes down after the first cooking.  You can cover the pan to speed things up a bit.

Slide the mixture onto a plate and flip it back into the skillet.  Let the top (which is now the bottom) brown for a few minutes.

Flip the tortilla back onto a serving plate.  Let it cool down, cut it into wedges, and serve. (This is just as good cold as it is warm - great lunchbox food - in fact, filling a Japanese Bento box with Spanish tapas is inspired!!)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Croque Monsieur

There are a couple of sandwiches that remind me to bow down in the direction of the Earl of Sandwich every now and then! I have to thank him for coming up with the concept of stuffing some kind of filling between two slices of bread so he could continue his card game, uninterrupted.  Me? I just like love eating them!!!!  And if they are grilled - even better!!!  
-Grilled cheese  - American, Jarlsberg, Cheddar, cream cheese and olive...!  
-Ham and swiss, grilled and dripping with butter!  
-Lean pastrami and spicy brown mustard, hot off the grill!  
-A New York Reuben!
-Cubans! (the guys are pretty cute, too...) 
-Philly Cheese Steak!!! 
-A shrimp po' boy!  
-Lobster rolls with almost no mayo!
-Muffalettas!!!!  (Especially when they come from Central Grocery in NOLA!!)  

I'm making myself hungry - better stop!

This is one of those filling sandwiches that brings me back to late-night studying in the stacks at Bapst Library when I was in college, and then a stop at a little diner in Brighton on the way home for dinner....or was that breakfast....?

Croque Monsieur

makes 8 sandwiches - serves 4 or 8, depending on how starving that student is!

1 T butter
3T flour
2 c hot milk
pinch nutmeg
12 oz Gruyere or Emmentaler, grated (You'll have more than a quart of grated cheese.  That's
                                                              OK! It's late.  Not counting calories, carbs or fat grams
                                                              on this one!)
1/2 c Parmesan
16 slices bread, crusts removed (Splurge and get a good loaf of bread from a baker for these)
Dijon mustard
8 oz. baked Virgina ham

preheat the oven to 400°

Melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in the flour and let it bubble for a few seconds.  Whisk in the milk, pouring it in a steady stream while whisking.  Continue to cook and stir until the sauce begins to thicken.  Take the saucepan off the heat. Add the S/P and nutmeg. 1/2 c of the Gruyere and all of the Parmesan, and stir until the cheeses are melted.

Toast the bread in the over for 4-5 minutes on a flat baking sheet.  Turn and toast another 2 minutes.

Spread one side of half the toasts with mustard.  Add a slice of ham and divide half the remaining cheese among the eight slices with mustard and ham.  Top with the naked slices of bread.

Place the sandwiches in a baking pan (with sides) and slather on all that cheese sauce.  (Soak those babies!!)  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.  

Bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes.  Then broil for 3-4 minutes to lightly brown the tops.  Don't leave any of that cheese sauce in the pan when you serve these babies. Scoop it ALL out and try to divide it equally among the eight sandwiches.  

Knife. Fork. Wine.  o.m.g.

Oh, Gruyere, how do I love thee?  
Let me count the ways!! 
I could easily live on these and die happy (probably in three or four days considering the fat content.) But I'd be a really happy corpse!

Note:  Add a poached egg on top of the sandwich and it's now called a 'croque madame'.

And this week's Recipe Detective Award goes to MEW in MD and bobbity212

Monday, August 17, 2015

Gazpacho and Chicken Quesadillas

Is there anything better on a cold winter day than a good old grilled cheese sandwich and hot tomato soup?  So, it stands to reason that there could be nothing better on a HOT day than a good old grilled cheese sandwich and COLD tomato soup, right?  Spicy foods actually make you "feel" cooler when the temps are hot hot hot outside - the Mexicans figured that one out a long time ago.  When the dog days of summer hit - Gazpacho is a go-to for me.  I have recipes for about ten different kinds of gazpacho, from watermelon to cauliflower, but I always come "home" to good old tomato gazpacho.  It's fast and easy in a blender!!

Gazpacho and Chicken Quesadillas

1 large can peeled tomatoes
1 small bottle tomato (or v-8) juice
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped*
1/2 c chopped red pepper*
1/2 c chopped red onion*
1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped (or 8-10 slices from jarred jalapenos)*
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
2 t balsamic vinegar
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t ground cumin
2 T fresh basil leaves, roll them up like a cigar and then cut in VERY thin slices to get long skinny strips (chiffonade)

1 large flour tortilla per person
cooked chicken
shredded cheddar cheese - or Monterey Jack - or a "Mexican" (not taco) blend
sliced jalapenos (or canned green chiles - a little milder)
sour cream

Smush the tomatoes to break them to pieces.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes with their juice, the cucumber, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno, garlic, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic, Worcestershire, cumin, S?P to combine.  Put half of that mixture in a blender and puree for 15-20 seconds.

Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine (you want some "chunkiness" to the soup.)

Chill for at least 2 hours.  Serve chilled or at room temperature with a sprinkling of the fresh basil on top of each serving.

Place one flour tortilla in a large heated skillet.

On one half of the tortilla, add some chopped chicken pieces, a good handful of the shredded cheese, and a couple of chopped pieces of seeded jalapenos.

Watch for the cheese to begin to melt (and do not burn the bottom of the quesadilla!)

Flip the quesadilla in half to enclose the melted cheese.  Slice the quesadilla into three serving wedges.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.

(Repeat for additional servings.)

*You can use your blender to "chop" the vegetables.  Just place them in the blender and cover with some of the tomato juice.  Then pulse your blender until the pieces are chopped to the size you want.


Jeni F. NY and Dumpsterkitty guessed this one.   Hot summer nights!!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cuban Chicken

This is another quick and easy meal - I learned this one from my Aunt Shirlee who has lived in Florida for years.  I travel back and forth to Tampa to visit her AND to get my hands on some of those wonderful "Cuban" sandwiches AND to chow down on Cuban food - my favorite being Chicken and Yellow Rice. 

Pollo Cubano y Arroz Amarillo 

con Frijoles Negro y Plátanos

(Cuban Chicken and Yellow Rice with Black Beans and Fried Plantains)
serves 4

2 T olive oil
2 whole chicken breasts (I cut mine into bite-sized pieces
3.5 cups hot water or chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 10 oz package yellow rice
1/2 lb frozen peas
2 roasted peppers, chopped OR 1/4 c. chopped Spanish olives

Brown the  chicken in oil in a deep skillet with a lid until golden on all sides.  Remove to a plate, sprinkle with S/P, keep warm.

Pour the water into the skillet, add the garlic and scrape up the chicken bits that are stuck to the pan (deglaze).  Add the rice and chicken and give it a stir.  Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook until the rice has absorbed the liquid (about 20 minutes).

Add the frozen peas and the chopped peppers (or olives) and cook another five minutes.

You can complete the meal with a drained can of black beans (cooked with onion and green bell pepper that have been sauteed, garlic, some of the roasted red pepper, a splash of vinegar, a tsp of sugar and S/P)  and fried plantains (peel, slice, fry 3-4 minutes per side, take them out of the pan and smush them down with a plate, dip in water, and then fry them again 1 min per side.  Dust with salt.)

NOTE:  If beans present a "gassy" problem, try cooking them with a sprig of epazote (a Mexican herb). Epazote, like the Indian herb asafoetida, has a strong taste, but the other spices in Latino cooking diminish that flavor. Remove the sprig before serving.  Or sprinkle a few drops of liquid Beano on them before serving and stir in. Beans are good for you, though, so eat them!! Beans contain sugars that we cannot digest. We are missing an enzyme that is required to break down these sugars. When the beans get to the colon, the bacteria in the colon begins to ferment those sugars and produce gas in the process.  Gradually increase the amount of beans you eat over several weeks, combined with rice. The benefit of eating more of these sugars in beans is that it promotes the growth of intestinal bacteria, and these bacteria create an environment in the colon that lowers the risk for cancer.

The CP who was able to decipher the clues and guess the dinner was klpentec-IN

Chicken Marbella

This was the first meal I made for SDP and is also one of my favorites for company.  It sounds strange on paper, but the taste is out of this world.  Good warm OR cold!!  (Great picnic dish!)

Chicken Marbella (Silver Palate Cookbook)

1/4 c olive oil
1/4 red wine vinegar
1/2 c pitted prunes
1/4 c pitted green Spanish olives
1/4 c capers
3 bay leaves
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and minced fine
2 T dried oregano
2 chickens, quartered
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine

Combine all of the beginning set of ingredients in a large non-reactive bowl, cover and refriegerate overnight (or all day).

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Arrange the chicken in a single layer in baking pans and spoon the marinade over.  Sprinkle the chicken with the brown sugar and pour the wine over.

Bake, basting now and then with the juices.

Chicken is done when thigh pieces run clear juice instead of pink when pricked with a fork - about 50-60 minutes.

Nice with rice pilaf and a veggie/salad and really cold white wine or white sangria.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chocolate Lasagna - DESSERT

Because some people asked for it!  (Blame Tina, who started the whole chocolate discussion!!)

Chocolate Lasagna

36-42 Oreos
6 T butter, melted
8 ox cream cheese
1/4 c sugar
2 T milk
12oz tub Cool Whip
2 3.9ox pkg instant chocolate pudding
3/25 c cold milk
mini choc chips

Crush 36 Oreos in a food processor.

Mix them with 6 T melted butter and press the mixture into a 9x13 pan.  Refrigerate.

Beat one 8ox pkg cream cheese until it's fluffy, add 2 T milk and 1/4 c. sugar and mix well.  Stir in 1.25 c Cool Whip topping.  Spread this over the cookie crumb layer.

Mix 2 3.9ox pkg instant chocolate pudding with 3.25 cold milk.  Spread that over the cream cheese layer.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top and dust with either some more crushed Oreos or some mini chocolate chips.

Let the whole thing firm up for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

                                      Audrey - ARiot - Opal          Chaos - Bailey - Bentley

Pasta Puttanesca***

*** I'll probably never be serving this one at the farm - at least, until I get Carlene's feelings about anchovies and capers on the table!  Some people love 'em and some people hate 'em.  But since real Caesar salads (anchovies) and chicken piccata and schnitzel (capers) are in regular rotation over here, those are two items that are always in my pantry.  This is a dish I learned from the Silver Palate cookbook that was so popular back in the 80s.  I fell in love with this dish as it is SO easy and so fast.  Plus it made tons of leftovers that were good cold as well as re-heated - perfect for a busy school teacher taking classes and holding down another job, to boot!  

Pasta Puttanesca


1 lb. spaghetti, linguine, or other thin dried pasta
2 cans (2 lbs. 3 oz each) peeled Italian plum tomatoes or crushed tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup tiny black Nicoise olives or plain California black olives if that's all you can find
1/4 cup drained capers
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
8 anchovy fillets, drained, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley, plus additional for garnish
2 tsp salt

Bring 4 quarts of salted water to boil in a large pot. Stir in the spaghetti. Cook until al dente.

While the spaghetti is cooking, drain the tomatoes, cut them crosswise into halves, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Combine tomatoes and olive oil in a skillet and bring to a boil. Keep the sauce at a full boil and add remaining ingredients except pasta, one at a time, stirring frequently.

Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook for a few minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking. Serve immediately over hot pasta and garnish with additional chopped parsley.

By the time the pasta is cooked, your sauce is bubbling away. Drain the pasta immediately when done and transfer to 4 heated plates and top with the sauce.  You can add a little Parmesan cheese if you'd like.

A piece of garlic bread and a bottle of daVinci Chianti and I am SUCH a happy camper!!

The "puttanesca"?  "In the style of the putta" - a lady of the evening.  The dish, according to the cookbook authors, got its name because it was 'cheap and easy'!  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken

A few years ago, I bought a small freezer for my house.  Why, oh why, oh why didn't I buy one years ago??  I've now become a huge fan of those "dump" recipes and have one shelf dedicated to zip-loc bags of chicken and shrimp, pork cutlets and steak tips, all marinating away.  (If you haven't done "dump" cooking yet - try it!  HUGE time saver.  Just google "dump" recipes" and  begin planning what you're going to do with all that time you just saved.)

Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken with Cilantro-Lime Rice

8 boneless chicken thighs
1/2 c honey
1/3 c. lime juice (about 2 limes) (I juiced the limes after I was done zesting them)
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce

basmati rice - 6 servings
1 T. lime zest
1/4 c lime juice
2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro

Zest two limes (pare a thin layer from the outside of the limes - none of that white stuff!!) and chop VERY finely.  (Or use a zester and you don't have to worry about the white stuff!).  Juice the lime carcasses.

Four hours before cooking, place the chicken, honey, soy and lime juice in a bag.  Mush everything around so the chicken is coated and put the bag in the refrigerator to marinate.

Start your rice.  (I've decided I prefer jasmine or basmati rice to all the others - but use what you like.)

Because I hate cleaning the grates on the grill section of my Jenn-Air (and didn't want to clean Carlene's either), I top the grill with a double layer of aluminum foil with the edges turned up to make a rim to catch any wayward drips.

Grill the chicken until done (at least 160 inside - or if you don't have a thermometer to test, cut one piece in half - you still want it juicy, but not dripping anything "red")  NOTE:  discard any marinade left in the bag.

Right before serving, stir the lime juice, zest, and cilantro into the rice.

Add a vegetable of your choice - I did peas to keep everything on the plate in that idea of "green".

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Years ago, there was a fabulous little Italian restaurant near my home.  I KNEW it was fabulous because several nights a week, the "boys in the black suits" would be holding a meeting over their plates of "gravy" and osso bucco!!!  One of their most popular dishes was chicken, sausage, onions and peppers, served with another plate of pasta and gravy (marinara sauce) and a salad.  

Chicken, Sausage, Onions, and Peppers

Olive oil
2 Sliced peppers, red and green
Diced onion
2 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
6 turkey sausages (I use sweet to not kill off my victims, but I'd rather the “hot”), sliced into bite-sized pieces

8 oz white wine
3 T store pesto
1-2 T cornstarch
pasta – I used tri-color rotini

-saute onions and peppers in 1 T olive oil until just beginning to brown
-saute chickens and peppers, stirring occasionally, until cooked through (10 min)
-add onions and peppers to meat and add 1 c water, the wine and the pesto. Cover and simmer about 10 min.
in the meantime, bring a pot of water to boil and add pasta to cook.
-stir the cornstarch into about 1/3 c of water and add to the meats and veggies, stirring until the sauce has thickened.

Serve the sauce over the pasta.

I might add some crushed red peppers to the sauce next time – I like things a bit spicier!!! (But not everyone does so I keep my cooking at SDP a little tamer!)


A side salad and some garlic bread and a bottle of Chianti would make this almost perfect.

Chicken Tikka Masala

I was introduced to Indian cooking by one of my fabulous room mothers.  Binita would come to our classrooms every day with some sort of treat she had just baked or created.  My teaching partners and I were so spoiled!!  (And since one of my partners was a REAL fussy eater, I ate like a queen all week!!)  Binita's dishes were fiery, tongue-flaming hot and her desserts were just sublime.  It's been fun learning more about Indian cooking since I retired.

                   Chicken Tikka Masala (slow cooker version)

Serves 4 to 6
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup coconut milk
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked rice, to serve
Marinate the chicken in 1 c yogurt for several hours before you start, if you can. (Shake off the extra yogurt before you put the chicken in the slow cooker.)
Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces place in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. SautĂ© the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, and spices.  Add all of this mixture to the slow ooker and stir until the chicken is coated. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices.
Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the coconut milk. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Taste and add more garam masala or salt to taste.
Serve over rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top of each serving. 
Serve this with peas with a pinch of oregano or sauteed spinach with a little lemon zest.

I like to add some crushed pepper to spice it up.  If you need a cooling drink to help tone down the heat, make a Punjabi-style lassi:  Blend together 1 c yogurt with 1 c water, 5 ice cubes, a pinch of salt and 1-2 tsp sugar in the blender.  You can also add a pinch of cardamon to deepen the flavor.  Sour cream or milk products tone down heat from fiery food.

Pasta Carbonara

One of my teaching buddies, Steve Brindisi, loved this dish!  I remember discussing it with him on one of those rare days when two teachers sit down and actually have an adult conversation over lunch that does NOT include discussing troubled students and what to do with them.  Steve was a fabulous cook, a gifted teacher and a true Italian.  I remember making this for him as a surprise for dinner when he was home trying to get well from the cancer that would take him from us.  He loved it and was SO happy I'd remembered what he'd taught me.  I still miss him!

Pasta Carbonara

1 box spaghetti
1/2 pound bacon (pancetta if you can get it)
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
4 eggs, beaten
handful of good Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
chopped parsley, if desired

Bring a large pot of water, with salt, to boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to directions.
Cut the bacon into small bits and saute until crispy - 5-6 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Pour off the grease except for 2 tablespoons.  Saute the garlic for 30 seconds (don't overcook garlic - it gets bitter!)

Drain the pasta and put the hot pasta right back into the empty pot and put the pot back on the cooling burner.  Add the eggs and the cheese and stir gently - the heat from the pan and the pasta will cook the eggs and melt the cheese.  (You can turn the burner back to low, if needed, to finish off the eggs if they remain too liquidy - remember eggs will continue to cook from the pan to the plate.)

Serve the pasta topped with the bacon and garlic and a dusting of parsley.

I served this with red peppers, garlic, scallions, zucchini, and yellow squash that I had sauteed in 2 T of olive oil and finished with 1/2 t oregano and S/P.  Dessert was a dessert shell, 1/3 c of mascarpone cheese, chopped nectarines, and whipped cream, of course!

Turkey Marsala

My mom came up with this one after reading a similar recipe using veal.  Since the cost of veal is so high and I just have a thing, for some reason, about baby cows, she adapted.  

Turkey Marsala

1 package (four slices) turkey breast
1 package swiss chesse slices
Marsala wine (or you can use sherry)
garlic, 2-3 cloves, sliced paper thin
fresh parsley, one handful, chopped
1 large container sliced mushrooms

Pound the turkey cutlets with a meat mallet or the edge of a saucer until VERY thin (Corelle saucers are great for this - you can't break them and they really break down the meat fibers)

In a shallow dish, combine the turkey cutlets (you can cut them into bite-sized piece, in advance, if you'd like.  I do this at the farm as the knives always seem to be disappearing!), the garlic, and the parsley.  Pour the wine over to completely cover the turkey.  Marinate at least 2 hours - preferably more.

Start your rice cooking.

In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and "sweat out" the mushrooms.  Place them in a bowl when done.

Pour off the marinade and SAVE in a bowl. Add 2 more tablespoons of butter to the skillet and quickly saute the turkey, garlic and parsley.  Add the mushrooms.  Pour the marinade over and bring to a low boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer gently for 5 minutes to cook the marinade.

Turn the heat under the skillet OFF.  Lay the slices of swiss cheese on top.  Cover the pan for three minutes and let the cheese melt.  Serve the turkey, and sauce over the cooked rice.


When I was teaching, I'd pound and marinate the meat before I left for school.  After arriving home, I could get dinner on the table, along with a good glass of wine (or two - always sauce the cook!) in less than a half hour.  This dish is inexpensive, has lots of flavor and is FAST - my kind of dinner!

Tortellini Salad

When it gets hot outside, the last thing I want to do is work in a hot kitchen or EAT a hot meal.  One of my teaching partners from many moons back used to make this salad on Sunday evening during the hot school days of September and June and we'd munch on it all week!  You can add and delete veggies to this to your heart's content.

Tortellini Salad

serves 6-8

1 container cheese tortellini pasta, cooked and drained
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/2 lb sliced salami, cut into strips (or cubed - your choice)
1 pkg cherry tomatoes, halved (SPEED HINT: trap them between two plates - top one inverted -  and you can just slice them ALL in half at the same time by slicing your knife BETWEEN the two plates while you press down lightly on the top one)
1 med. zucchini, cut into cubes
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1 yellow and 1 orange pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 bottle Italian salad dressing (I used Newman's)

Chop all the veggies while the pasta is cooking.  Toss the veggies and salami with the drained pasta and the salad dressing.  Let the salad cool a bit, then add the cubed cheese.  Let the salad marinate an hour before serving.

(I submitted this one to the Newman Company - paws crossed that it might win some $$ for CA!)

Chicken Cacciatore

It wasn't until I was much much much older that I realized how creative my mother had to be in the kitchen:  one income, four mouths to feed, not much money.  This was one of her go-to dishes and we all loved it.  A true Southern girl, Mom had never had Italian food until she married my father and moved close to NYC.  In those early days of marriage, when they would go to a restaurant, Mom would take careful notes on items in the menu and then recreate them at home.  She was one of those people who could figure out a dish and how to put it together either by tasting it or just by reading about the item on a menu.  Over the years, she took on a variety of cuisines  - one of her rules was to add new recipes to the dinner menu constantly.  I think one of my best gifts from her is the ability to "taste" a dish just by reading the ingredients.

Chicken Cacciatore

Mom cooked hers on the stove.  I do, too, but I've also made this in the microwave and in a pressure cooker.  It's pretty hard to mess this one up!!!  This was the first meal I made for Carlene after I showed her how to use her pressure cooker.  I may get her addicted to PC cooking yet - my favorite time saver!!!!

olive oil (always - extra virgin - don't waste your money on anything else)
on the stove - chicken pieces
pressure cooker - boneless chicken, preferably chicken thighs (breast meat gets "dry") - figure 2 pieces per person
2 large onions
3-4 green peppers
small container of sliced mushrooms
garlic (#1 rule in my kitchen - you can never have too much garlic!!)
large can crushed tomatoes
red wine
crushed red pepper

Procedure stove top:
In a large pan, brown the chicken pieces on both sides in a few tablespoons of olive oil - don't turn the heat too high - olive oil smokes at high heat

While the chicken browns, slice the onions, peppers, mushrooms and garlic.

Remove the chicken when browned and then saute the onions and peppers until the onions are limp. Add the garlic slices during the last minute. (Don't overcook garlic!  When it's just barely cooked it's very sweet.  When you overcook it, it gets bitter.) Saute the mushrooms in a separate pan as they sweat out a lot of juice!

Add the tomatoes, a good slosh of wine, about 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano and basil, a pinch of crushed red pepper and S/P to taste.

Cover the pan and let simmer gently about an hour. If the sauce is too watery thicken it with a slurry of cornstarch/water or flour/water, stirred into the simmering sauce.  Serve over cooked pasta.

Procedure pressure cooker:
In the cooker, brown the chicken pieces on both sides in a few tablespoons of olive oil - don't turn the heat too high - olive oil smokes at high heat

While the chicken browns, slice the onions, peppers, mushrooms and garlic.

Add the onions, peppers, mushrooms. garlic slices, tomatoes, a good slosh of wine, about 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano and basil, a pinch of crushed red pepper and S/P to taste. NOTE: The vegetables will really be COOKED - if you like your veggies to have more "body", saute them separately and then add them at the end.   Just cook the chicken with the tomatoes, wine and spices.

Place the cover on and bring the pressure cooker up to 15 lb pressure for 10 minutes (if you use pieces with the bone in, you do get the benefits of the calcium in the bones but you are forced to pick out the bones before serving.  Use boneless!)   If the sauce is too watery thicken it with a slurry of cornstarch/water or flour/water, stirred into the simmering sauce.  Serve over cooked pasta.

A tossed salad, a glass of Chianti, and some garlic bread are good serve-alongs.