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Posts Tagged ‘Main Course’

On the Docket– Week of December 3rd

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

We’re still working through Thanksgiving leftovers.  That’s what I get for making a 19 pound turkey for four people.  I’m really glad I turned the leftovers into some casseroles, but boy will I be happy when we’re finished with these leftovers!

While I probably won’t be cooking too much this week, I’ve been clipping all sorts of recipes in anticipation of finishing these casseroles.  Here are a few of the recipes I’m looking forward to making soon!

Beef Stew:  I made black bean and chicken soup a few weeks ago.  It was such a satisfying lunch that now I’m on a soup kick.  Though it hasn’t been too cold yet, I’m hoping that if I continue cooking as if it’s cold, the weather will eventually catch up.

White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Blondies:  Ok, I’m cheating a little bit here.  My boss was looking for some cookie recipes to bring to a friend, and I passed this one on to her.  She made the blondies this week, using peppermint kisses rather than the peppermint bark.  She brought me one as a sample on Friday.  They were delicious- buttery, pepperminty, and Christmasy.

Roast Shrimp with Carrot Couscous:  Though I’m really happy with how I dealt with the leftover turkey, having three casseroles at the same time is a little heavy.  The thought of a lighter meal like this is simply irresistible right now.

So many recipes to try!

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Let’s Talk Turkey

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Let’s consider this my Thanksgiving post mortem.  While I wholeheartedly admit that this information would have been far more useful a week or more ago, I was not sure how well my first attempt at cooking the Thanksgiving meal would go, well, until it was done.  Although I spent hours pouring over recipes in order to pick the perfect menu, I had my doubts on how I would be able to pull this off.

The Good:  From my limited number of diners (thanks mom, dad, and husband), the consensus was that everything was great.  Highlights were:  the apple tart (“best tart crust I’ve ever tasted”), the stuffing (“sausage and caramelized leeks?  Delicious!”), the gravy (“the color, taste, and texture are perfect”), and the cranberry sauce (the next day, my mom ate a heaping spoonful of cranberry on its own).

The Bad: While my parents didn’t have any criticism, my husband and I agreed that the turkey was dry.  Though the meat was very flavorful, I think the white meat was overcooked and that I should have pulled the turkey from the oven sooner.  That and I burned my arm.  Oh right, the bottom of the tart pan moves!

Lessons Learned:  Given that this was the first Thanksgiving I’ve prepared on my own, to say it was a learning experience is an understatement!  Here are my thoughts:

  • Prepare in advance:  I recognize this is a luxury.  I had time off to burn, so I took the week off.  If you can get the time off of work, take it in order to get a few things ready before company arrives.  On Tuesday, I made cranberry sauce, turkey stock, pie crust, mashed potatoes, citrus glazed carrots, and port glazed pearl onions.  Having a few items that just needed to be heated made all the difference.
  • Be prepared for a frozen/partially frozen turkey:  I was not prepared for this.  In fact, I hadn’t even considered it as a possibility.  When I picked up my turkey, that per the Whole Foods website should have been fresh, it was frozen solid.  Thinking nothing of it, I just put it in the fridge and assumed that I would be able to salt the turkey as planned the next morning.  Knowing what I know now, I would have done a few things differently.  First, I would have confirmed with the store that the turkey had not been frozen.  Second, I would have picked the turkey up on Monday, instead of Tuesday, in order to allow more time for the turkey to defrost in the refrigerator.  Finally, I would have done a bit more research on defrosting and cooking a turkey, which leads me to my next point.
  • Trust your instincts:  I put my 19 pound unstuffed turkey in the oven around 9 am.  After 4 and a half hours, the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh was about 166 degrees.  I should have pulled the turkey out of the oven at that point.  Instead, I kept the turkey in the oven based upon the cooking time I had discussed with several other people, drawing on years of experience cooking this type of meal.  I should have trusted my instincts; I think the turkey would have been that much better if I had.

All in all, the meal turned out very, very well, and I’m pleased with the results.  Sure, there are a few things I would have done differently, but even though hindsight is 20/20, I was very happy with the praise I received for a meal well cooked!

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On The Docket– Week of November 26th

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The name of the game this week: how to clear out the leftovers from a 19 pound turkey and all the trimmings.  Why I made that much food for four people is beyond me.  Go big or go home, I guess.

Turkey Cranberry Walnut Salad:  I love chicken salad.  So, considering I have an obscene amount of leftover turkey, some leftover dried cranberries, and a stash of walnuts in the pantry, I think this will be a fantastic lunch option for the coming week.

Turkey Tetrazzini:  Please see above regarding the amount of turkey left over from Thanksgiving.  I’ve always liked turkey tetrazzini but I’ve never attempted to make it.  Here goes nothing.

Turkey Shepard’s Pie:  Let’s see:  I’ve got turkey, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, and roasted pearl onions.  I think I can make a lovely shepard’s pie with these ingredients.

That should get me through the week without having turkey and all the trimmings every night until all the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone.

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Weeknight Calzones

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Once upon a time, there lived a girl who never wanted pizza.  It’s not that she didn’t like pizza.  In fact, she liked it quite a bit.  It’s just that when pizza was offered as an option, it was never what she wanted.

I hate to say it, but that girl is me.  I don’t know what it is, but I’m never in the mood for pizza.  I always enjoy it when I eat it.  What’s not to love?  Dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and any other topping you could imagine.  If asked, though, I’d rather eat something else.

The problem is my husband LOVES pizza.  We, ahem, buy pizza bagels on a regular basis.  Every time we debate what to order in, his first suggestion is pizza.  So, when my cube-mate offered me a recipe for mini calzones, I knew what I had to do.  I had to give them a try.  The results were delicious, and this recipe has become a weeknight staple.

 

Chicken, Spinach, and Artichoke Calzones (adapted from Cuisine at Home)

3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella

1/4 cup shredded Parmesean

1 chicken breast, cooked and diced

1 package Garlic and Fine Herbs Boursin

1/4 cup minced onion

1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts (I used about 5 artichoke hearts in brine, rinsed)

1/3 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 pound prepared pizza dough

1 egg, beaten

Flour

Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

For the filling, combine the cheeses, chicken, onion, artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Mix to combine the ingredients evenly.

Divide the dough into four equal segments.  Dust the dough and the work surface with flour.  Gently roll and stretch the dough into an eight inch round and let rest.  I let mine rest for about 10 minutes.

Place 1/4 of the filling onto one side of each dough round.  Stretch the dough over the filling and crimp the edges to seal the calzones.  Brush each calzone with the beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

 

Place the calzones on the heated pizza stone and bake for 12 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

 

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Chicken with Black Bean Chipotle Sauce

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The following dish is really easy and pretty darn good for you.  The original recipe called for whole chicken breasts, but instead, I cut the chicken into small cubes.  I served this with polenta, and it was delicious!

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

14 ounce can blackbeans, rinsed

2 teaspoons ground chipotle pepper

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon minced cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons chili powder

4 chicken breasts, removed of excess fat and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Spray a saucepan with cooking spray and saute the onions until translucent, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 45 seconds.

Add the black beans, chipotle, chicken stock, tomatoes, cilantro and salt.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until thickened.  Remove from the heat and cool.

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Place the black bean mixture in a blender and puree until smooth.

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Combine the olive oil and chili powder in a small bowl.  Add the chicken and combine until the chicken is covered in the chili powder mixture.

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Heat a skillet, coated with cooking spray, over medium high heat.  Add the chicken, and saute until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Serve the chicken with the black bean sauce.

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Salt-Baked Chicken

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

When I was 17, my family went on vacation to southern Spain.  One night, my mom and I split salt-baked fish at a restaurant on the beach, and it was delicious.  Ever since then, I have been obsessed with the concept of salt-baking, so when I saw the following recipe, I knew I had to try it.

The chicken that resulted from this recipe was perfectly cooked and was so moist.  While the following recipe is a Chinese preparation, I am curious about trying this method with other roast chicken recipes.  More to come on that experiment!

Salt-baked Eight Flavor Chicken (Adapted from Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

3 pound whole chicken, rinsed

3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

2 teaspoons hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon five spice powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/3 cup sliced shallots

3 tablespoons chopped ginger

4 chopped green onions

4 lbs of Kosher salt (1 1/3 boxes of Kosher salt)

Combine the soy sauces in a small bowl.   Rub the mixture into the skin of the chicken and let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.

Combine the rice wine, hoisin sauce, sugar, sesame oil, five spice powder, and salt together in a small bowl.

Heat a wok over high heat.  Add the oil and swirl to coat the sides of the wok.  Add the shallots, ginger, and green onion.  Cook for about a minute and then add the rice wine mixture to the wok.  Stir to comibine.  Remove from heat, and remove the contents of the wok to a small bowl.  Allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spoon the contents of the bowl into the cavity of the chicken, and wrap the chicken in parchment paper.

Cover the bottom of a covered casserole dish with half of the Kosher salt.  Placed the wrapped chicken over the salt layer.  Cover the top of the bird with the remaining salt.  Cover the casserole dish and bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Check the temperature in the thigh and the breast.  Once both are above 160 degrees, remove the dish from the oven and serve.

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We enjoyed this dish as part of a Chinese New Year celebration including fried rice, spicy green beans, lo mein with pork, and whole salmon.  Delicious!

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Roasted Chicken Breasts with Butternut Squash

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

I’m really bummed that I didn’t take pictures of this recipe, but I decided to post it anyway because it was delicious!  This is a really quick one dish meal for a weeknight.

The recipe suggests making foil pans for the chicken and squash, but I just used a 9×13 pan, with the chicken in the middle and the squash lining the sides of the dish.

Roasted Chicken Breast with Creamy Butternut Squash (Adapted from Cook by Jamie Oliver)

4 chicken breasts, cut in half

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 jalapenos, minced (I left the seeds in mine)

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP oregano

salt and pepper

1 butternut squash, seeded and sliced

1/2 cup of cream

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts in a bowl.  Toss with olive oil, garlic, jalepeno, oregano, salt and pepper.

Place the chicken breasts in the middle of a 9×13 baking dish.  Line the dish with the butternut squash.  Pour the cream over the butternut squash, but avoid pouring it on the chicken.  Season the squash with the nutmeg.

Put the dish in the oven and roast until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 40 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

My mother-in-law made the following recipe on a family vacation a few years ago.  After begging her for the recipe, I finally tried this on my own a few weeks ago.  Better late then never I guess!

Because of the sugar and honey in the marinade, the outside of the pork cooks very quickly, so make sure you check the internal temperature before removing the pork from the grill.

Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

1 jar hoisin sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp spicy mustard (I used spicy Chinese mustard)

1/3 cup honey

1 TBSP terriaki marinade

1/2 tsp ground ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 pork tenderloins, about 3 pounds total

Combine all of the ingredients in a larg Ziploc bag.  Marinate the pork in the refridgerator for 2 hours.

While the pork is marinating, heat a charcoal grill.  When the grill is hot, cook the pork.  The cookbook I used recommeded 4 minutes per each of the four sides of pork.  We kept rotating the pork every 4 minutes, but we cooked the pork for a total of 30 minutes.

Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  Slice to pork and enjoy with the dipping sauce recipe below.

Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream

1/3 cup mayonaise

1 TBSP chopped green onion

1 TBSP dry mustard

horseradish to taste (I used a Wasabi horseradish sauce we keep around the house)

Mix all the ingredients togther in a bowl and serve with the pork.

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Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I tried this recipe for barbecued pulled chicken sandwiches a few years ago, and since then, I’ve made it at least once a year.  I’m at a loss for words trying to describe this recipe, so I’ll just say that I think this recipe is delicious and leave it alone.

Barbecued Pulled Chicken (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated 2005)

For the Chicken:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Rub with Love, Pork Rub

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Coat the chicken breasts and thighs with the Pork Rub, and cook over a hot charcoal grill.  The chicken breasts took about 4 minutes per side, while the chicken thighs took about 2 minutes per side.  We cooked the chicken while cooking a few other things on the grill and let the chicken cool overnight.  This is in no way necessary, and the chicken just needs to be cooled enough so it can easily be handled.

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For the sauce:

1 large onion, diced

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1 1/2 cups apple juice

3 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

3 tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup molasses

pepper

4 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

4 garlic cloves

1 1/2 tbsp chile caribe

1 tsp cayenne

Process onion and water in food processor until pureed, about 30 seconds.  Whisk the onion and water mixture with the ketchup, apple juice, Worchestershire, mustard, molasses, pepper and cider vinegar in a medium bowl.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil, and add the garlic, chile caribe, and cayenne.  Cook for about 30 seconds, and add the ketchup mixture.  Bring the sauce to a boil, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer, uncovered, until the flavors combine, about 15 minutes.  Transfer about 2 cups of the sauce to a bowl.

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While the sauce is cooking, shred the chicken breasts and thighs, removing any excess fat in the process.  Place the smaller chicken pieces (or about 1/2 the shredded chicken) in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 5 1-second pulses.

Mix the pulsed chicken and the shredded chicken into  the saucepan and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes.

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Then, make sandwiches with the chicken mixture, serving the remaining barbecue sauce as a dipping sauce.  I used about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture for each sandwich.

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I served the sandwiches with corn on the cob and roasted potato salad.

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Steak au Poivre

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

My parents called while I was making dinner a few days ago.  When I told my dad what I was making, he told me to hold dinner; he could be here in about 3 hours if he left for the airport right away.

I don’t make steak very often, so the following recipe was a real treat.

Steak Au Poivre (adapted from the Way the Cookie Crumbles)

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, minced

1 cup beef broth

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup brandy + 1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon lemno juice

4 strip steaks, 10 oz each

salt

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed

Heat 1 tablespoon of utter in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook until the shallot is softened.  This should take about two minutes.  Add the broths and increase the heat to high.  Reduce the mixture to about 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes.  Set the reduced mixture aside.

Sprinkle both sides of each steak with salt.  Rub one side of each steak with the peppercorns.  Press the peppercorns into the steaks.

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Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes.  Lay the steak, un-peppered side down, in the skillet.  Increase the heat to medium-high and press down on the steaks with the bottom of a cake pan.  Cook the steaks without moving until browned, about 6 minutes.  Flip the steaks and cook the peppered side, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rate.  Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil to warm.

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In the pan used to cook the steaks, add the reduced broth, cream, 1/4 cup of brandy and cream.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon to loosen the browned bits.  Simmer until deep brown and thickened, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter, brandy, lemon juice, and any meat juices.

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Set a steak on each plate and spoon a portion of the sauce over each steak.  I served this with brussels sprouts and twice baked potatoes.

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