Archive | August, 2010

Thrifty Chicken in a Bath

23 Aug

I learned a lot of things today: {one} a whole chicken only costs $4.00 {two} I can easily cut out the backbone of a chicken with scissors {three} a brine is a salt water mixture used to keep moisture in the meat you are cooking {four} zucchini can be left to saute/wilt for a long time and it still tastes good {five} the recipes that say they are $10.00 meals are only $10.00 meals if you have all the spare ingredients that they need, otherwise they are $20.00 meals.

How in the world did I learn all these lessons in one day?  Well, it’s quite easy.  I was watching food network last night and got inspired to chop a backbone out of a whole chicken because the B*#!& made it look so darn easy.   Simple as that.  {Really, she was teaching me how to use a brine on a chicken and pan-roast it until it’s quite delish and juicy!} I highly recommend this recipe to you all.  It was really easy, made me feel like I was really “cookin” and tasted quite delicious when it was finished… And, if you have all the spare ingredients {tarragon, white wine, onions, etc..} then it may really cost you under $10.00 for dinner! {And that my friends would be a huge success!}

Let’s start with the ingredients. You will need:

1 – 3 to 4 pound chicken

1/2 cup of kosher salt

1/2 cup of brown sugar

4 cups hot water

1 small onion, chopped (big pieces are fine)

1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns

2 sprigs of fresh tarragon, chopped (big pieces are fine)

2 cloves of garlic, smashed (I love garlic and used 4-5 cloves)

4 cups ice water

1/2 cup white wine

3 tablespoons of olive oil

First, you want to create the brine.  To do that, take the hot water and add the sugar and salt and stir until dissolved.  Once it is dissolved, add the onion, garlic, tarragon, peppercorns, and white wine.  Give it a quick whisk.  Add the ice water.  You do not want the mixture to be hot at all when you add the chicken.  Set this aside.

While that is cooling off … it’s time to clean up our chicken.  You’re going to want to clean it off, take the nasty stuff out of the inside and then lay it flat on a cutting board breast side down.  Take a good pair of kitchen scissors and cut down both sides of the backbone detaching it from the chicken.

Then you will submerge your chicken in the brine.  I read somewhere if your chicken starts to float, you can add a ziplock back full of ice.  Mine wasn’t really floating, but I thought it would be fun and ‘safe’ to do that step too.

This goes in the fridge for an hour.  This is what I did while I was waiting for my chicken to finish it’s bath …..

After you chicken is done bathing … it’s time to fire up the pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  You want to get your pan nice and hot and then add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Before you lay the chicken in the pan you want to lay it breast side up on a cutting board and break the breast bone so the chicken lays as flat as possible.  You will also want to blot the chicken off with a paper towel to absorb as much moisture as you can.  Then you want to find a really heavy pot/pan, a cast iron pan or a brick covered in tin foil to pay onto of the chicken … The idea here is that you are going to get the maximum surface area pressed down in your hot pan in order to make the skin as crispy as possible.  Place the chicken breast side down in the pan for 8-10 minutes on med/high heat.  Here is my ghetto “press” …

And here is what my chicken looked like when I flipped it over after 10 minutes:

Once you get a good crust … place the chicken (breast side up) in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the temperature reaches 160 degrees.  Make sure you let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before you cut into it … I could hardly wait that long.  I served mine with red potatoes and sauteed zucchini and onions.  Everything turned out delicious.  I will say that I was surprised that you could not taste the ‘brine’ as much as I thought you’d be able to.  It smelled so strong with the tarragon and the onion and garlic that I thought for sure the seasoning would be overpowering but it wasn’t in the slightest.  Very mild actually.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the recipe and try it out for yourself … I’m sure it was a good laugh for those of you who know me to picture the visual of me chopping up a chicken… but it was worth it – and fun to boot!  Night ya’ll!

Kabobs on the Barbie …

20 Aug

I was sure that my chili from last night would make it as leftovers for dinner tonight … but after eating it as a midnight snack and having a bowl for lunch … a night off from having to decide what was for dinner was nowhere in sight.  So, like any good woman would do, I waited until 6:30pm to survey my options.  Yeah, nothing.  Off to the grocery store with the bright idea of having grilled kabobs and baked potatoes.  Needless to say, the series of late afternoon summer thunderstorms have not left us … and as soon as I got halfway to the grocery store the heavens opened up.  Funny thing about where I live, it can be raining buckets in one area and then drive home and it be dry as a bone.  Thankfully, this was the case tonight.  I didn’t do anything special.  I purchased some pre-made kabobs from the butcher and popped some potatoes in the microwave.  Only thing extraordinary was the bacon I cooked to make into bacon bits for the potatoes.  Geesh, I’m amazing! Anyhow … I didn’t snap any pictures because I was too concerned with getting dinner on the table before the heavens opened up a monsoon over our BBQ.  So, thanks to google, you have an idea of what my dinner looked like.  Night ya’ll!

Chili Warms the Soul

19 Aug

It’s pouring rain here tonight. Last night we had some serious storms … horizontal rain … which I got to drive in on the way home from a meeting. I can barely see to drive in the dark, let alone horizontal rain and whipping winds. Needless to say, I thought a traffic signal or tree were surely going to come flying in my window at any point.  Anyhow, this little story is just to explain why I want to make a big pot of chili in the middle of the summer.  It’s perfect for this rainy night.  This is the recipe I used: Read my chili blog here.  But, I used 2 pounds of meat. I also had the wonderful “fortune” of trying to find eggs in the middle of an egg-recall. You’d think the grocery store would have a list of the ones NOT to buy … but no.  So, I bought two kinds and said a little prayer that when I got home the factory numbers would be ok.  They passed.  The eggs were needed for the corn muffins in case you were wondering how I was using eggs in my chili. {ha} Anyhow… enjoy ya’ll! Have a great night!

Emulsifying? Ehh… Boiling Butter!

16 Aug

I believe I have blogged about this dinner once before, but driving home tonight from work I had an instant craving for lamb chops. Perhaps it was the documentary I watched last night about sheep and a family of herders who traveled with their sheep through some valley…. my mind is a little weird.

Anyhow. Tonight I made Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Chops, Red Potatoes and Asparagus. It was pure deliciousness. And even better was the fact that usually I put them in the broiler, but the foodie bf grilled them for me … yum! Basically, i cut up a few twigs of rosemary and a few pieces of garlic, salt and pepper and then poured in some olive oil. I put it all in a ziplock bag and let them marinate as long as I could wait. Here’s a look at said “marination” ….

I know it looks a little disgusting, but trust me it’s amazing.  So … I let this sit for a while {really only about 45 minutes, but that’s as long as I could wait … and even that was torture for a girl who had only had a piece of leftover pizza all day} and then made some red potatoes – boiled – while they were draining, I coated the bottom of the pot with butter and salt and then threw the potatoes back in to soak up the goodness!  I also made steamed asparagus but instead of pouring out the little bit of extra water… I boiled some butter {I guess it’s called emulsifying} and poured it over them. {yummy, but not diet food}

Here’s the meat:

And here’s the finished product …. If you need better instructions, just ask! Enjoy ya’ll

Beef Stroganoff Picture Tutorial

13 Aug

It is so like me to wait until I’m in the grocery store parking lot {waiting out the late afternoon typhoon pouring down from the heavens to pass} to pull up a recipe for Beef Stroganoff on my phone, write down the ingredients and have the bright idea that this would be a good meal for dinner … tonight … at 8:30pm. Who does that? Anyhow, I got home a little bit later and got to work chopping mushrooms, {which I hate but thought I would give a try again for the sake of a good dinner} shallots and beef. I honestly think I’m the only person who decides to tackle a “real dinner” after 8pm. Regardless, the dinner came out quite delicious and I wanted to share it with you all…. Enjoy!

You will need: 6TBSP of butter {yes}, 1 pound of top sirloin or tenderloin cut into thin strips about an inch long, 1/3 cup of chopped shallots {this seemed like a lot, I didn’t use that much and just kinda eyeballed it}, 1/2 pound of cremini mushrooms sliced {yuck, yuck but I did it anyways. I couldn’t stand to measure them so I just chopped up half a container and called it a day}, 1/8 tsp of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of dry tarragon and 1 cup of sour cream at room temperature. {By the way … I LOVE SOUR CREAM!}

 

Beef Stroganoff Ingredients

 

It’s actually quite simple.  You’re going to want to do all your chopping first … get your water boiling for the egg noodles. {Oh, did I mention those already? Well, you’ll want to serve this with egg noodles, potatoes or rice.} Next heat up a pan with three tbsp of butter.  The idea is to brown the meat on both sides quickly as to not dry out the middle. Make sure to salt and pepper it well while it’s doing its thing … Once you’ve browned the pieces on each side for a few minutes, put the meat in a bowl and set aside. 

Beff Stroganoff

 

Looks yummy doesn’t it?!  After you set aside the meat, add the extra 3 tbsp’s of butter and bring the heat down a bit.  Saute the shallots for a few minutes until tender and then take them off the heat and add them to the meat.  Do the same thing with the mushrooms.  I’m assuming that they wanted me to do these two steps separate like I just described to you … but I got a little over zealous when I was chopping and added the shallots and mushrooms to the same bowl and there was no way that I was going to sit there and pick them out … so everything got sautéed together and it turned out just fine. 

No mushrooms

 

Notice something missing in the picture above? …. Mushrooms perhaps?  Yes, I spent “a few” minutes chopping mushrooms that I hate because I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt, until the foodie bf came along and threw half of them down the garbage disposal. Yeah, he doesn’t care for them either.  So, the moral of the story is that Beef Stroganoff can be made with little to no mushrooms and still taste wonderful!  Next comes the good part, the sour cream.  You’re going to want to add a cup of sour cream to the mushrooms {or the mushrooms AND shallots if you combine them like me} being careful not to bring it to a boil … apparently sour cream can curdle.  {Add salt and pepper at this point if you’d like}

Beef Stroganoff Picture

 

Lastly, you’re going to return the meat to the pan and cook for just a bit longer to bring the meat back up to temperature from sitting patiently in that bowl.  A little note: When I browned the beef I got a lot of moisture that came out of the mean and so I had a good bit of liquid in my meat bowl. In hindsight, I added a bit to much of it to the sour cream and made it a little bit too runny for my liking.  Next time I will drain the meat, saving a bit of the liquid in case the sauce is too thick and I can add a bit in at a time.  But, that’s cooking for you … a learning process.

 

So there you have it my friends.  The dinner that was born from waiting on the rain to pass in the parking lot of the grocery store at 8:30pm on a Friday night.  I’m sure there are other people out there like me… it may just take me a while to find them!! {ha} Enjoy Y’all …

My “Ferry” Godmother … Chinese Style

6 Aug

Isn’t it funny how you crave Chinese food at the most random times?  Well, I do.  I’ve found the most wonderful solution to this problem, all I need to do is keep some chicken stocked in the fridge/freezer {We will not go into how much I hate frozen meat that has been thawed. I think you can taste the difference and I will argue with anyone who says otherwise!} and a few boxes of my new love; Wanchai Ferry Dinner Kits. Chinese food fast and easy to your table without the delivery man and his tip. In the box you get a package of seasoned corn starch, some sauce and vegetables or chili peppers depending on the kit you choose.  Tonight, we had Orange Chicken.  All you do is cut up some chicken, shake it around in a zip lock bag with the aforementioned corn starch, add a little oil to the pan, cook the chicken, add the sauce, add the veggies or chilies … cook, cook, cook … and BAM, dinner!  A little side note. I don’t like the rice that comes with the box. Seems that I can never get it to get soft enough. My remedy is two bags of “boil-a-bag” rice. Simple and I know I can’t screw that up! I didn’t get any pictures tonight because my camera was full and I was too lazy to clear it out… so you will have to make do with the picture of the box. Really that’s all you need … go to the store and try it. You’ll thank me when you’re craving Chinese food and don’t feel like waiting on the delivery boy and tipping him for inevitably being late! … Night Ya’ll

Sprite Pound Cake | Heaven on a Plate!

4 Aug

Prepare your hips ladies, I want to talk about cake.  Sweet glorious cake.  I’ve posted before about the wonderful recipe I have for “Sprite Pound Cake” … well, I made it again last night.  I actually planned ahead {shocking, I know} and baked the cake before dinner because I knew there was no way I would feel like baking after cooking dinner, unloading/loading the dish washer, feeding the dog, etc…  I did however learn a lesson from baking said cake early: Don’t get impatient and try to flip a cake out of a bundt pan while it’s too warm. My beautiful cake lost it’s top {which ended up being the bottom} … I was pissed, but it still TASTED like cake! I had also cut some strawberries the night before and put them in a bowl with sugar and grand marnier to marinate overnight.  They where delicious on the cake topped with some whipped cream! Good lord,  I think I may go have another piece as soon as this blog is done!  Check out the recipe … and if you have blueberries, you can use those as topping too! Enjoy Ya’ll!