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Posts Tagged ‘Vegetables’

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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Polenta!

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I’ve never been a huge fan of polenta, but when I came across this recipe, I wanted to give it another shot.  The original recipe called for medium grain polenta, but I happenend to have a box of instant polenta in my cabinet.  I used that instead, and I was quite pleased with the result.

Golden Corn and Saffron Polenta (adapted from Bon Appetit)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

5 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 pinch saffron threads, chrushed

1 package instant polenta

1 package frozen corn kernels, thawed

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, cover, and cook until the onion is translucent.  Do not allow the onion to brown.  Add the broth, salt, and saffron.  Bring the mixture to a boil, and add the instant polenta.

Using instant polenta, this mixture will cook cookly.  Cook for 2 minutes covered.  While this is cooking, add the corn to a food processor and blend until it forms a coarse puree.  Mix into the polenta.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

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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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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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Grilled Potato Salad

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Potatoes are my favorite side dish.  Sadly, if I’m torn between two items on a menu, one with a potato side dish and the other with something else, the potato is usually the tiebreaker.  Unfortunately, my husband is not a huge fan of my favorite side dish, so I’m always looking for a potato recipe he’ll eat.

The following recipe was a winner.  I came across this recipe a few summers ago when my husband picked up The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue, and it has since become a staple in our barbecue repertoire.

Grilled Potato and Arugla Salad with Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette (Adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue)

1 1/2 lbs. potatoes (my favorite potatoes for this recipe are red potatoes)

Salt

2 tbsp olive oil

pepper

1 tbsp rice vinegar

3 c arugula, sliced into ribbons

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin chunks

3 tbsp chives, minced

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 shallot, minced

Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil.  While you’re waiting for the water to boil, cut the potatoes into slices and skewer the potatoes.

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Place the skewers in the boiling water and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Transfer the skewers to a baking sheet and coat the potatoes on all sides with olive oil, salt and pepper.

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Slide the potatoes onto a cutting board and cut the potatoes into smaller pieces.  Transfer to a bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients.

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Broccoli Cheddar Frittata

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I am a big fan of breakfast foods, and for as long as I can remember, my favorite breakfast choice has been eggs.  In fact, one of the earliest stories I have heard about myself involved eggs:  I was about 18 months old eating scrambled eggs in my high chair.  When I decided I was done, I started moving my hands from side to side, clearing the space in front of me.  I thought I was being helpful, but really, I was throwing egg all over the kitchen.

Though I still enjoy my eggs, I try not to throw them around the kitchen when I’m done.  The following is one of my favorite quick and easy breakfast recipes.  I usually make this over the weekend and send any remaining leftovers as breakfast at work for my husband and myself.  The leftovers reheat really well in the microwave.

Broccoli and Cheddar Frittata (adapted from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave)

8 eggs (the original recipe calls for 4 eggs and 4 egg whites.  I’ve tried 6 eggs and 2 egg whites, and this last time, I used 8 whole eggs.  All turned out well)

2 tbsp water

2 tsp olive oil

1 small red onion, cut in half and then sliced thinly

2 cups chopped broccoli

salt and pepper

3 oz shredded cheddar cheese

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Heat the broiler.  I used the low setting on my broiler.

Combine the eggs and water in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

In an ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for about a minute.  Add the broccoli and cook for another 4 minutes.  (I had not previously cooked the broccoli, so this is the method I used.  The original recipe suggests 3 minutes for the onion, followed by another two minutes once the uncooked broccoli is added.)

Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, covering them as evenly as possible.

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Cook until the egg mixture sets around the edges, about 8 minutes.  Sprinkle with the cheese.

Place the skillet under the broiler until the surface has set.  The top should be golden brown, about 3 minutes.

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Cut the frittata into wedges and serve!

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Coconut Black Rice

Monday, April 26th, 2010

I was flipping through a cookbook a few months ago, and I was intrigued by a recipe for black rice.  According to the introduction to the recipe, black rice has a sweet, nutty flavor and is rick in iron and fiber.  I filed the idea away as a “recipe I’d like to try.”

A few weeks later, I was in an Asian supermarket in Denver and picked up a bag of the so-called Forbidden Black Rice.  After a few more months of stalling, I finally got up the nerve to try this recipe.

The rice turned a deep purple color during the cooking process, and the final product was delicious.  True to the recipe’s introduction, the rice was a little on the sweet side and had a deep nutty flavor.

Coconut Black rice (Adapted from Nourish)

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 of a yellow onion, diced

1/2 of a yellow bell pepper, diced

1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced

1 c Chinese black rice

1 c chicken broth

1 can light coconut milk

1/2 tsp salt

pepper

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Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and both bell peppers, and saute until the onions are translucent.

Add the rice, broth, and coconut milk to the pan, and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat to low.  Cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

When I was a kid, I just assumed that I didn’t like Brussels sprouts.  My family never ate this mysterious vegetable, so I just thought that like all those kids on TV that were threatened by these awful green things, that I would never eat them.

Clearly I had an unfounded hatred of a vegetable I had never eaten, and I’ve grown pretty fond of Brussels sprouts over the past few years.  The following recipe is pretty tasty, but it’s not the healthiest recipe I’ve ever tried.  It went really well with the steak au poivre and twice baked potatoes though!

Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream (Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

1 lb smal Brussels sprouts

1 c heavy cream

salt

pepper

freshly grated nutmeg

Remove any discolored leaves from the Brussels sprouts.  Trim the stem ends with a knife.

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Bring the Brussels sprouts, cream, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.  I stirred the mixture after 5 minutes to make sure the sprouts were evenly distributed.  After 10 minutes check to see if the sprouts are tender:  a knife tip inserted into the center of a sprout should not meet any resistance.  I cooked mine for a total of 15 minutes.

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Season with pepper and nutmeg.  Serve and enjoy!

If you would like the cream sauce to be a little thicker, the original recipe suggests transferring the sprouts to the oven to warm while continuing to simmer the sauce until it thickens, about 5 minutes.  When I made these, the cream sauce thickened significantly on the stove, so I skipped this step.

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Twice Baked Potatoes

Monday, April 19th, 2010

To me, the only side dish for a good steak is an equally delicious potato.  Mashed, au gratin, baked- it doesn’t really matter to me; I love potatoes, so I’m not very picky.  When I recently suggested we have steak for dinner, my husband suggested twice baked potatoes as a side dish.

In the past, the twice baked potatoes I’ve made have been pretty dry.  When I tried this recipe, I was very happy with the results.  The potatoes were very moist, and the taste was fantastic

Blue Cheese and Chive Twice Baked Potatoes (adapted from Simply Recipes)

4 large russet potatoes

Olive Oil

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon cream

1 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/4 cup chopped chives

salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Poke each potato with a fork and coat the potatoes with olive oil.  Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

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Once the potatoes are cooled, slice the top third of the potato off lengthwise.  Using a spoon, coop out the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch of potato on the skin.

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In a bowl, mix the inside of the potatoes with the sour cream, milk, cream, and butter in a bowl.  Mash with a potato masher.  Mix in the blue cheese and chives.  Spoon the fillings into the potato shells.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the potatoes on a roasting pan for 20 minutes.

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Stuffed Mushrooms

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

When I was a kid, I hated mushrooms.  I thought they were just disgusting.  That all changed when I tried some stuffed mushrooms my aunt’s cousin made.  I don’t remember much about them, except that they were stuffed with a cheese mixture and they were delicious.  Ever since, I’ve been obsessed with the concept of stuffed mushrooms.

Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

7 sun-dried tomatoes (I did not used the tomatoes packed in oil)

2 TBSP olive oil

18 white mushrooms, caps reserved and stems chopped fine

3 shallots, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 c. breadcrumbs

1 egg yolk, beaten

1/4 c. parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 c. grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Soak the tomatoes in hot water for about five minutes.  Reserve 1 TBSP of the soaking liquid.  Drain the tomatoes and chop fine.

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Lay the mushrooms cap, face up, on a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Flip the mushrooms face down.   Foodblog 023

Bake for 10 minutes.  Pour off any liquid from the pan, and flip the mushrooms over so they are ready to be filled.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a small skillet.  Add the chopped mushrooms stems, garlic, and shallots.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are softened.  Transfer the mushroom mixture to a bowl.  Mix with the breadcrumbs, tomatoes, soaking liquid, yok, parsley, basil, and 2 TBSP of the grated Parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Mound the mixture into the mushroom caps.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

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Bake for 15 minutes.

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