Monday, January 26, 2015

Broccoli-Cheddar Risotto

Back in college I actually did like to cook once I was living in an apartment and the sorority house. But even though I'd make something like a roasted or sautéed chicken breast, I'd still use instant sides (hey it was college - just making the chicken is pretty impressive).
One of my favorites was the Uncle Ben's rice packet that had the seasoning and veggies all mixed in, specifically the broccoli cheddar one. It was easy, didn't take much time, and when it was done you had a creamy, cheesy side that was both your starch and veg. Nevermind the fact that it had more sodium that any person should eat in a week - I didn't care about that stuff back then.
Well when I saw this recipe pop up in my Feedly app, I instantly thought of those college days and was immediately craving cheesy rice with broccoli. My favorite college dinner turned into a homemade, grown-up risotto - yes, please!
Risotto is one of my favorite things to cook and eat. I love this creamy rice dish so much that I created a page in my recipe index dedicated solely to risotto. Take a look - there are more than 20 risotto recipes ranging from simple parmesan-garlic and mushroom recipes to black truffle risotto and even some really interesting ones like Mexican risotto and Asian-inspired risotto.
I'm so thankful that my friend Sarah found this recipe, made it, and posted it on her blog A Taste of Home Cooking because honestly, while I have experimented with many ingredients when making risotto I never thought of using broccoli and cheddar. But it works - it totally works.

Cheddar-Broccoli Risotto
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
  • 4-6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large broccoli crown, cut into small florets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • Bring the chicken broth to a low simmer in a saucepan. Keep warm.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and season with salt and pepper. Saute approximately 10 minutes until the broccoli is tender and browning in spots. Remove the broccoli from the pan.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in the pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion; sauté 2 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir to coat.
  • Add the wine and stir until evaporated, about 1 minute.
  • Start adding the chicken broth one ladle-full at a time, letting it fully absorb before adding more. This process takes anywhere from 17-25 minutes - near the end keep tasting your rice to see if it is cooked through.
  • Before you add the final ladle of broth, add the broccoli back in.
  • Add the final ladle of broth and once it's just about absorbed, turn off the heat and add the grated cheese. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore

When you are having guests for dinner the last thing you want is to be tied to your stove, right? Over the holidays my cousin and I got together to cook for our family, and we came up with a menu that would allow us to prep and cook ahead of time while having a few drinks and catching up. And then when everyone arrived we had a few things left to do in the kitchen, but most of the meal was already prepared.

Here is the menu we prepared:
   Appetizers: Antipasto platter of cheeses, meats, olives, roasted peppers, crackers
   Crusty Bread
   Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore
   Roasted Baby Red Potatoes (our other option was polenta which I think would work perfectly)
   Roasted Green Beans

The oven braised chicken cacciatore was a new creation based on a recipe I have previously used for a quicker stove-top cacciatore and my desire to make a meal completely in the oven. We basically seared the chicken, cooked the veggies down a bit, and then transferred everything to a roasting pan to braise. Super easy, right? And the aromas you get while this is cooking away in the oven will make your guests so hungry for dinner.

Take a look at how beautiful this was coming out of the oven -

This chicken was tender and juicy - the perfect result of braising. But the star of the dish was the sauce, one of the most delicious things I have made - seriously. It's basically a tomato broth, but when combined with the wine and herbs and veggies it turns into a rich and comforting sauce and you won't be able to get enough of it. Every single person was sopping it up with the bread after dinner and some of us even went back for more sauce and bread.
Put this one on your list for your next dinner party, or Sunday dinner, or snowy day meal, a rainy day meal, the first chilly day of the year, the last chilly day of the year, when you are craving chicken, when you have a loaf of bread that is dying to be dipped in sauce, a weeknight when you have just a little extra time... get the picture? No reason needed, just make this one. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore
Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 8 chicken breasts (or thighs, your preference)
  • Spices and herbs to season your chicken: salt, pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika. Be generous.
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1-2 c chicken broth
  • Additional salt, pepper, and thyme
  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
  • Season your chicken generously with the salt, pepper, and herbs. Coat with flour.
  • Heat half of the oil and half of the butter in a large sauté pan. Shake excess flour off the chicken and add to the pan (cook only 3-4 at a time so as to not crowd the chicken in the pan). Cook 3-4 minutes per side until you have a nice, golden sear. Transfer to a large roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • If your pan is dry, add a touch of oil. Add the peppers, onions and mushrooms to your pan. Saute 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute
  • Add the wine and stir, scraping up all the brown bits left by the chicken
  • Add the tomatoes, stir, and let cook 2-3 minutes
  • Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken, and then add the broth slowly until your chicken is almost completely covered. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme.
  • Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and cook, uncovered, for approximately 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Garlic and Herb Rubbed Roast Pork Loin with a Mushroom Wine Gravy

 I remember many Sunday dinners at my grandmom's house that featured a roasted pork loin as the main dish. Roast pork is easy and elegant and can be seasoned in so many ways. For this dinner I chose garlic and herbs and finished it with a Mushroom Wine Gravy.

When making my gravy I added my liquid slowly which gave me a richer, thicker gravy.

The best part - tasting it along the way!!

Garlic and Herb Rubbed Roast Pork Loin with a Mushroom Wine Gravy

  • 2 lb pork loin
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • A few pinches each of dried thyme, sage, and Italian seasoning blend (or whatever herbs you prefer)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 c chopped mushrooms (white or crimini)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 c chicken broth

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees
  • Mix the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, Italian seasonings. Rub the mixture all over the pork loin, and then set the pork on a rack in a roasting pan.
  • Roast on 450 degrees for 10 minutes, and then lower your heat to 300 degrees and roast until the internal temperature reaches 140-145 for medium or 155 for well (approximately 25 minutes per pound). Transfer the pork to a dish and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Do not discard the drippings from the pan.
  • Just before you take the pork out of the oven, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms soften, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute
  • Add the flour and stir to coat everything, and then add the wine, stirring until it has absorbed.
  • Lower the heat and add the broth, 1/4 c at a time, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Repeat until you have used all of the broth and you have the consistency and quantity of gravy that you want. You can also add the drippings from the roasting pan when you first add the broth.
  • Slice the pork and serve with the gravy.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie Pasta

A few weeks ago I was craving both Chicken Pot Pie and Chicken and Dumplings in the worst way. We had a really busy week though and I didn't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen so I didn't get to make them. So to satisfy my craving I threw together a creamy chicken dish with all of the flavors of chicken pot pie (except the peas...completely forgot to throw them in even though they were sitting right there...) without the work. And instead of potatoes and crust I subbed pasta.

Chicken Pot Pie Pasta
Inspired by my Chicken Pot Pie and Chicken and Dumplings

  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed
  • Salt, pepper, dried thyme
  • Touch of olive oil for cooking chicken
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Handful of white or brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 sm yellow onion, diced
  • 1.5 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 1-2 cups of chicken broth (see notes in directions)
  • 1/2 c frozen peas
  • Optional: frozen corn
  • Pinch each of dried thyme and dried dill week
  • 1/4 c light cream
  • 8 oz cooked pasta, small shape
  • Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a pinch of dried thyme
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan; add the chicken and cook 6-8 minutes until done; transfer to a plate.
  • Add the butter to the pan and add the mushrooms; sauté 8 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, onion, and celery; cook 2 minutes
  • Add the flour and stir to coat everything
  • Add the wine and stir until absorbed
  • Slowly add the broth 1/4 c at a time, stirring to thicken. Repeat as needed, slowly, taking your time to develop a thick and creamy sauce. Season with thyme and dill
  • Once you have as much sauce as you want (you may not use the entire 2 cups - it's up to you!), stir in the frozen peas and then return the chicken to the pan.
  • Add the cream and stir until heated through
  • Add the pasta and toss to coat

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Vegetarian Kale and White Bean Soup

The other day I bought a huge bunch of kale to use either for a side, in a stew, or in a soup (I haven't been great with the meal planning lately...). After looking at the weather forecast for the week I knew I had to make soup, so I reached out to my Facebook followers for their favorite soup recipes using kale. I got some great suggestions! The next day I looked through the recipes and it turned out that I didn't have all of the ingredients for any one recipe (and that was a huge bummer because I really wanted to try the copycat Zuppa Toscana recipe my cousin suggested!).

I ended up winging it and used the ingredients I did have on hand - kale, white beans, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, and broth. This soup, for being a pretty simple vegetarian soup, has a very rich and deep flavor, and I achieved that by developing the soup slowly, adding one ingredient at a time and letting it simmer for a short while. This is why I much prefer cooking soups stovetop instead of in a crockpot where you put all of the ingredients in at once.

I loved this soup and it made the perfect lunch when it was 33 degrees, raw, and pouring rain. My 4 year old ate it and kept saying how good it was! And best of all, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around so you can feel really good about eating this soup.

Vegetarian Kale and White Bean Soup

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sm carrot, diced
  • 1/2 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 14.5 oz can of white beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch of kale; washed, stems removed and chopped (note: my bunch was huge so I used half. I recommend prepping your kale and adding it a bit at a time so you don't end up with a kale stew)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 c vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat
  • Add the onions and sauté them 3-4 minutes until soft
  • Add the carrots and sauté 2 minutes
  • Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute
  • Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes; sauté 1 minute
  • Add the white beans and stir, and then add the kale and stir
  • Season with salt and pepper and add the broth. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Thanksgiving Timeline, Menu and Some Tips for Hosting

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday - the parade on TV in the morning (the local Philly parade), food in the oven and on the stove all day (house smells great), friends and family, comfortable clothes (no fancy holiday dresses here), football in the afternoon, and of course, way too much food (and wine). Since we had our daughter Christmas is becoming my new favorite holiday for different reasons, but Thanksgiving will always be my favorite food holiday.

Last year I was lucky enough to host my parents, aunt, uncle, 2 cousins, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their 2 boys. There were 13 of us in total and I had SO much fun setting up, planning, decorating, cooking, and hosting. My house felt so warm and happy and was full of laughter and the sound of children playing and running all day. . I loved every minute of it.

But I can't lie, the thought of hosting did stress me out a bit. So what do I do? Make lists, of course. I LIVE by lists and always have one on my phone and update it daily. For last year's Thanksgiving I had lists for my guest list, menu, food shopping, "stuff" shopping (new tablecloth, décor, etc), prep sorted by the type and day, and a day-of timeline. Having these things all written out in front of me gets them out of my head and on paper so I no longer need to obsess over every little thing but instead can just look at my lists.

Our day and the days leading up to the big day went so smoothly that I thought I'd share my timeline and some other things that worked for me. I know hosting, especially for the first time, can be stressful so I hope I can help!

Being prepared and organized will mean you can enjoy your day with your guests, and isn't that what it's all about?

My Timeline
I'm listing the times I used, but to make your own timeline, start backwards. First put down the time you want to eat and go back from there. And it may seem silly to list every little thing like I did, but when you have a menu of 12 things while a bunch of people are hanging out in your kitchen it's easy to get frazzled and forget the little things.

     3:00 PM 

     2:55 PM 
          Rolls out of oven and into a serving dish or basket
          Gravy into serving dishes

     By 2:45 
          Carve turkey and turkey breast; put on platters
          Put "in-the-bird" stuffing in a serving dish
          Take green bean casserole and "out-of-the-bird" stuffing out of the oven
          Put rolls in the oven
          Pull cranberry sauce, cucumber salad and coleslaw out of fridge (already in serving dishes)
          Light candles in dining room
          Put all hot items in serving dishes (refer to your menu to make sure you don't miss anything)

     2:40 PM
          Open wine
          Put rolls on baking sheet

     2:35 PM
          Make gravy; keep warm on stove.

     2:30 PM
          Make corn and peas
          Put green bean casserole in upper/main oven
          Turkey out of oven
          Mash the potatoes
     1:45 PM  
          Boil potatoes
          Put the "out-of-the-bird" stuffing in the lower/second oven
          Take butter out of the fridge

     1:20 PM
          Heat lower/second oven
          Start to prep green bean casserole

     1:00 PM
          Prep and put out appetizers
          Fill ice bucket
     12:00 PM
          Put turkey breast in oven

     10:30 AM - 11:00 AM
          Stuff bird, prep/season bird, tie legs, put turkey in oven

     10:20 AM
           Pre-heat main oven

     9:00 AM
          Make stuffing

Some of My Other Tips
Just a few tips for things to do early, some helpful advice, and some Type-A things I do to make the week less stressful!

  • The amount of shopping you will need to do may seem overwhelming, so when making your shopping list, make one master list with absolutely everything you will need. Then, break it up into things you can buy a few days or a week early (dry goods, frozen things, soda, beer, wine) vs things you will need to buy fresh (veggies, fresh flowers, bread, etc.). I also break my list up by store - supermarket, produce store, wine store, beer store (PA is weird like that) and miscellaneous stores. Even better - make your list in Excel so you can easily sort and move things around.

  • Get all of your serving dishes out the night before and figure out what will go in each one. Doing this early will save you from digging through cabinets at the last minute and will help you make sure you have enough dishes, bowls, and platters.

  • While you are at it, get out all of your serving spoons and forks, too.

  • If you are making a buffet, lay out your dishes the night before (if possible and if it won't be in the way of your prep space). At one party I even put post it notes in the dishes on my buffet so if anyone offered to help they would know what went where, and so I would remember how I laid out my buffet.

  • Ask people to help, especially in that last hour as there is a lot happening. My husband loves to cook and he's in charge of the main things on Thanksgiving - the turkey, stuffing, and gravy. My dad makes the best mashed potatoes so he did the mashing. My nephew did a great job at stirring the mushroom sauce for the green beans and he was thrilled to help. My mom and dad bake the desserts. People will be happy to chip in and do things like lighting the candles, taking dishes to the table, or staying out of the way and in front of the TV if that is what you want them to do!

  • Set a self serve bar in an area away from where all the cooking and prep will take place - ice bucket and tongs, wine glasses, other glasses, corkscrew, mixers, cocktail napkins. If you need limes or other garnishes for your bar, cut them the day before and have them ready in a serving dish. Make sure your soda and beer are cold, either in a second fridge or cooler (and don't forget the ice for the cooler!).

  • Set your table a day or two in advance - move any furniture needed, iron your tablecloth, set the dishes, make the centerpiece, etc. This is one task you won't want hanging over you on the day of your gathering or while your guests are there.

  • Prep as much food as you can ahead of time. Wash your veggies, peel and quarter your potatoes and store them in water in the fridge for a day or two, blanch your beans, put butter on/in a serving dish, set out all of the dry goods you will need (flour, broth, salt, pepper, etc), get all of your pots and pans and cooking utensils out and ready.

  • Put your cold items in serving dishes so you can go from fridge to table (the cranberry sauce, salad, etc.)

  • Take people up on their offer to bring something. If you like having control over the menu, ask them to bring an appetizer, dessert, or drinks.

  • Make sure your salt and pepper shakers are full and on the table.

  • Buy a bunch of extra plastic/to-go containers or Ziploc bags so you are ready to send everyone home with leftovers.

  • If you are having a few or more kids (younger kids, especially), pick up some crafty turkey day things they can do. I picked up these paper cup turkeys from Michael's and the kids, and even a few adults, had so much fun putting them together and then decorating with them.

  • If it is cold where you live, turn down the heat an hour before people get there. It's going to get hot fast especially with the kitchen on overload.

And Finally, My Thanksgiving Day Menu
My menu is pretty simple and traditional -

     Appetizer: Endive with Pears, Gorgonzola and Crushed Pecans; Cheese/meat/fruit/cracker platter


     Turkey stuffed with my husband's stuffing (his mom and grandmom's recipe)

     Turkey breast because you can never have too much and leftovers are awesome


     Stuffing for those who like it out-of-the-bird

     Mashed potatoes

     Green bean casserole with fried onions




     Cole slaw

     Dinner rolls

     Spiked cranberry sauce


     Cranberry sauce - canned. Some of us like that kind :)

     Dessert: Dad's Apple Pie and Mom's pumpkin pie

I didn't have room for anything else on the menu, but here are some of my other favorites that sometimes make an appearance on a holiday menu -

     Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots and Bacon

     Autumn Salad

     Cauliflower-Broccoli Gratin with Mustard-Sage Cornbread Crumbs

     Creamed Onions

     And for those leftovers, here is something different - Bubble and Squeak or Mini Chicken (Turkey) Biscuit Dinner

I'd love to hear from all of you - what are some of your favorite entertaining or holiday hosting tips? What have you learned along the way?

Happy Thanksgiving!! Wishing all of you a warm day with those you love and most importantly, full bellies :)

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Green Bean Casserole

Confession: I never had the wildly popular cream-of-something-soup based green bean casserole traditionally made at Thanksgiving, and I never thought I was missing anything with all of the other amazing food on the table. But now after having a homemade version, I never want another Thanksgiving dinner without this dish.

Making the creamy sauce is SO easy that there is NO need for the canned soup. And even though I never had the canned version, I can guarantee that there is no comparison - this one will blow you away. Hell, the sauce was so good that I couldn't stop tasting it as I was making it. I considered forgetting the beans once the sauce was done and just eating it as a soup.

I did take one shortcut just because I had so much cooking going on that day. I used the canned fried onions instead of following the recipe to make my own. The next time I make this I will make my own, but if you need a shortcut this would be the one I recommend.

So if you are still trying to finalize your turkey day menu, try this one. I can't wait until next week so I can make it again!!

Green Bean Casserole
Source: Smitten Kitchen

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
  • Few gratings fresh nutmeg (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Prepare the beans: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and boil greens for 5 minutes. Drain beans, then plunge them into ice water to full stop them from cooking. Drain again, and set aside. You can do this ahead of time, up to one day.
  • Make the mushroom sauce: Over medium-high heat, melt butter in the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute them until they start releasing their liquid, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how they were chopped. Add the garlic and saute one minute more. Add the flour and stir it until it fully coats the mushrooms. Add the broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring the whole time. Simmer mixture for 1 minute, then add cream and bring back to a simmer, cooking until the sauce thickens a bit, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Assemble and bake: Add cooked greens beans to sauce and stir until they are coated. Sprinkle crispy onions over the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and onions are a shade darker. Eat at once.


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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Potato and Corn Chowder with Bacon

"Soup's not a meal!!"

Anyone remember that debate on a Seinfeld episode? Jerry is given a suit by his "friend" Bania and in  return owes him a meal. However when they go out Bania orders soup saying that he'll save his meal for another time. It goes on and on with Jerry insisting that this is the meal and there won't be another chance while Bania demands that soup is not a meal. Hysterical!!! Aah Seinfeld, the best show about nothing!!

Anyway, I have to agree with Jerry - soup IS a meal, especially when it is a hearty soup like this Potato Corn Chowder. I have made several chowders so I took my favorite things about them and created this chowder. Bacon is a must for me when starting a good chowder, and I love saving it to use as a topping for serving.

Potato and Corn Chowder (yes, it's a meal)
Original Recipe

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Russet potatoes, diced or cubed (equal sized pieces)
  • 8 oz creamed corn
  • 1/2 c frozen corn
  • 3-4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 c light cream
  • Cheddar cheese for topping (optional)

  • Heat your stock pot or Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from the pan (crumble and keep for topping) and leave 1 Tbsp bacon grease in the pan, discarding the rest.
  • Add the butter to the pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrot. Saute 2-3 minutes until the onion is soft
  • Add the garlic and potatoes; sauté 3 minutes
  • Add the creamed corn, frozen corn, touch of salt, pepper, thyme, and cayenne. Stir everything and then add the broth slowly - you may not use all of the broth. You want your veggies covered but not lost in the broth. You can always add more if you need it. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes have cooked through.
  • Lower the heat and add the cream; let simmer for several minutes.
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Serve topped with crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese.  

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chinese Green Beans with Pork

I'm back with a new post - finally! I know it has been a full month since I last posted - and what a busy month it was! But now we are back in our routine and even though I haven't posted, I have been doing a lot of cooking so I will be sharing all of those recipes with you over the next few weeks.
The recipe I'm sharing today is another perfect quick and easy weeknight meal - don't we all need those? And with prep and total cooking time being less than 25 minutes, it's on your table faster than take-out. Another plus, and it's a big one - less sodium than take-out and you know exactly what is in it and how it was prepared.
The original recipe called for ground turkey, but I changed that to pork - just a personal preference. I also used regular rice vinegar instead of seasoned. .
Chinese Green Beans with Pork
Adapted from: The Weary Chef
  • 1 c medium grain rice, uncooked
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 small bunch green onions, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 pork chops cut into very small pieces (or 1 lb ground pork)
  • 2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed ginger
  • 1 lb washed and trimmed green beans (or Chinese long beans if available)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp (seasoned) rice vinegar

    • Cook rice according to directions (I boil the appropriate amount of water according to the directions, add the rice, stir, reduce to a simmer and cover. In 25 minutes it's always perfect
    • When rice is about 10 minutes from done, heat large skillet over high heat. Add the pork and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the meat is mostly cooked (if using ground pork, crumble the meat as you are cooking it).
    • Add sesame oil; add green onions and garlic and sauté 1 minute
    • Stir in chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, and ginger.
    • Add green beans and soy sauce, and stir to coat. Continue cooking over high heat for 7-9 minutes longer, stirring frequently, until beans are slightly tender.
    • Stir in rice vinegar, and cook one minute longer. Serve over cooked rice.
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    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    Bacon Bourbon BBQ Chicken

    When I'm browsing through recipes pinned to Pinterest, I always stop when I see bacon in the title. That's where I found this one, and it led me to the blog Host the Toast.
    I didn't fully read the recipe at first... I just drooled over the pictures and couldn't wait to taste this chicken. I finally put them on the menu a few weeks ago and that's when I read the recipe to make my shopping list.
    I've used bacon in cooking a lot and sometimes it's used more as a garnish, sometimes I render the fat to give that smoky-bacon flavor, or sometimes it's a big part of the dish. This recipe uses bacon in a way I haven't before. You actually grind the raw bacon into a paste and use it as a rub on your chicken. Interesting, right??
    I have to admit that while I was making this raw rub I was really not sure. I mean, it doesn't look that appetizing, but I kept on going. The rubbed chicken looked even less appetizing but trust me - just keep going. The bacon kind of melts in to the chicken on the grill and gives it the best flavor. Top that with the bourbon BBQ sauce and the chicken is perfectly sweet, salty and smoky.
    Bacon Bourbon BBQ Chicken
  • 16 oz barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces (I used thighs and breasts)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 6 slices raw bacon, cut into small pieces
  • Added: 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
    (slightly modified)

    • In a food processor, combine the kosher salt, white pepper, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, and bacon. Pulse until completely smooth. I had to add some oil slowly to get more of a paste consistency.
    • Put the chicken pieces on skewers (pre-soaked skewers if they are wooden) and then rub generously with the bacon mixture. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours in the fridge.
    • In a small bowl, combine the BBQ sauce and bourbon. Mix well.
    • Light the grill and heat to medium-high
    • Place the kebabs on the preheated grill. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until nearly cooked through.
    • Brush the kebabs with the bourbon barbecue sauce and cook for an additional minute on each side.
    • Serve with the remaining BBQ sauce.
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