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Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

At the request of Big Brother, we made noodle soup together for dinner.  He stirred the garlic and noodles (dry pasta) in olive oil while I peeled and chopped the vegetables.

Tomato Noodle Soup (Caldo con Fideo)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2/3 cup dry pasta broken in small pieces (angel hair) [fideo]
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • half a bunch of swiss chard, thick stalks removed, shred the leaves
  • chicken stock
  • 1/2 small can of tomato paste
  • fresh thyme
  • chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Sauté the garlic, onion, and pasta in the olive oil until it begins to turn golden but not burnt.  Add chicken stock and water, about 2 cups of each ( I just fill up the small stock pot used for soups).  Add salt and pepper, thyme, tomato paste, celery, carrot, and potato.  Bring to a slow boil and reduce to medium-high for about 10 minutes or until the potato pieces are almost fork-tender.  Add the swiss chard and remove from heat. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.

Pizza Toasts

To use up the remaining half of the tomato paste, I made “pizza” under the broiler using leftover French bread.

  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 4 slices French bread
  • olive oil
  • Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • pinch of oregano

Turn on the broiler to low.  Drizzle olive oil on one side of the bread slices.  Toast under the broiler until crisp.  Spread the tomato paste on the bread, top with the cheeses and oregano.  Return to the broiler until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

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Of all the things to run low on, salt should never be one of them. I kept thinking the box of little crystals would continue providing this essential ingredient.  To say the least, we’ve been on a low-sodium diet lately.

That is until today.  Finally remembered to pick up salt at the store, two canisters: regular salt and sea salt.  Why both?  Well I have my own OCD tendencies in the kitchen, besides being burly and over bearing on anyone else who might try to cook in it.

Regular salt is used in baking.  Since baking typically involves mixing so many different ingredients, you can’t tell me you would know that chocolate muffin was made with regular salt or sea salt.  If you can, your palate should be used on Iron Chef or something.

Sea salt is used in cooking.  If the precious rock crystals run out, thou may substitute regular salt.  Sea salts, in my opinion, are less harsh on the tongue, a softer salt flavour if that makes sense.  Sea salt is a must for caramel popcorn.

So tonite’s dinner was surf ‘n’ surf and could have been doused in sea water.  I put way too much sea salt on the poor fish fillets, I think I double salted them.  Try eating very little salt for a week and then eat salty chips, you mouth will be on fire and you’ll be looking for the nearest water fountain.  That was pretty close to the sensation after eating this plate.  I need to pay more attention when cooking fish, too much of anything will overpower a thin fillet.  Salmon stands up a bit better to my cooking style and is forgiving.  Thank you Njord!

  • 1 fillet of white fleshed fish per person
  • 1/3 lb shrimp per person
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp butter per pound of shrimp
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • sea salt

Sprinkle fillets with garlic powder, onion powder and sea salt on both sides, easy with the salt there cowgirl.  Heat olive oil briefly in a pan, sear both sides of the fillets.  Hold fish in a warm oven.  Melt the butter in the pan.  Add the shrimp in a single layer, add the garlic and sea salt to taste.  Flip the shrimp once, they should be “C”s and opaque when finished cooking.

Serve with rice and/or salad.

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The first time I made dinner for my husband when we began dating, I made salmon.  It was a gamble, for sure.  I had no clue what he might like, or hate, but I wanted to impress his taste buds.  I was so nervous to present him with the first meal I had ever prepared for him, however the nerves melted away when he lit up at the table.  What I learned was that he loves fishing, and I could not have picked a better suited dish than a perfectly cooked piece of salmon.

  •   salmon fillets
  •   Dijon mustard, a good tbsp
  •   maple syrup or honey, 1 tbsp
  •   BBQ sauce, enough to coat the fish
  •   garlic a clove or two, minced
  •   Mrs. Dash (regular flavor)
  •   parsley or cilantro – dry
  •   Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

Wash and pat the fish dry.  Cover baking sheet with foil.  Spray or lightly rub veggie oil on the foil, just enough to let the fish slide.  Place the fillet skin side down on to the greased pan or foil.

In a cup mix together the BBQ sauce, mustard, honey/syrup, Worcestershire, garlic.  Spread on the fish, sprinkle Mrs. Dash and parsley on top.

Bake the fish for 20-25 minutes.  It should be flaking but still juicy when done.  You can make a bit extra sauce to put on half way through baking.

Delicious when served with roasted asparagus and rice!  This edition was a trout fillet with basmati rice and romaine salad.

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Since finding cassoulet in my copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking I’ve been trying to devise similar recipes which would lessen the time and cost of preparing such a cozy dish.

This rendition was the result of less than 10$ of ingredients and a couple of hours of stewing in the oven. Us working folk normally don’t have an abundance of time to devote to cooking, but stretching what you have in the pantry at this time of the month (and year) is inevitable and necessary. Weekends are the typical days where my craft can be let loose in the afternoon to bring a leisurely made meal to the family table by supper time. This dish could equally be made in a crock pot, on low while you’re away at work or running errands. I trusted a slow oven for this hearty and thrifty meal.

The measurements are not exact, for you can use more or less depending on what you have.  Go easy with the herbes de Provence, or it will taste like you mistakenly added your flower bed to the stew.

  • 2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 8 chicken thighs, skin and visible fat removed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can white beans (Northern Beans or Navy Beans), rinsed
  • pinch or two of herbes de Provence (see note above)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (you can omit if gluten is a problem!)
  • 2 – 3 cups chicken stock, homemade preferably, or low sodium purchased
  • salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.

In a Dutch oven or equivalent roasting pan, render the bacon.  Slowly fry the bacon to release the fat and remove any crisp pieces as you go.  Use the bacon fat to brown the chicken thighs on each side, you don’t have to worry about cooking the chicken at this point, that will happen in the oven.  What you want is a bit of color on the chicken to add flavour!

Remove the chicken as it browns, split the chicken in two batches if the pan will be too crowded.  Crowds make for sweaty birds, not browned caramelized ones.

Once the chicken is out, check the pan for fat levels, add a few dots of olive oil if the pan looks dry.  Immediately toss in the onion and carrot, tossing them around to coat with the oil or bacon fat.   Sauté until the onions start to look tanned, as if they just came back from a sandy beach off the coast of nobodycares. 

Add salt and pepper, the herbs, (flour) and the garlic.  Stir until the garlic and herbs become fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Then add the stock and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the beans and crispy bacon pieces.  Nestle the chicken thighs into the pot, the liquid should come half way up the meat.

Cover the pot and place in the oven.  Turn down the oven to 300ºF and leave it alone.  After 2 hours you will enjoy a rich broth with dark chicken meat falling off the bones! 

Serve alone, with cooked pearled barley (yum, this was what I made), with rice, or a slice of fresh bread (also what I had with the stew!).

This stew disappeared before I had a chance to do my photo shoot.  You’ll have to imagine this one 🙂

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I made Anne Burrell’s hash with some chicken leg quarters last night… amazing! I love sweet potatoes and normally roast them whole and unadulterated, but this recipe intrigued me. It will largely depend on the bacon you use as to what the resulting smoke level will be, so use what you like best. I crisped up the bacon and removed the grease from the pan, substitute with just a bit of olive oil so that nothing sticks and the salt and pepper have something to grab on to. No seeds were added since I would be sharing with the little one. I used one green apple and two medium sweet potatoes, three slices of bacon. 

Not only is this perfect for dinner, it would be a great addition to a holiday brunch table.  Be forewarned though, it will be a little mushy the next day if you try to save any leftovers (all the more reason to eat and share more!)  The bacon drippings might be able to stay next time, or I will try a more smoke packed bacon to impart more flavor to the cubes of potato and apple.  A sweet yellow onion would be fine too, when green onions are not available.  I cooked my green onion too long and they just disappeared on me. 

This is a good recipe if you want something new for your sweet spuds.  Go check it out on FN‘s website!

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Any time is perfect for a batch of Pozolé!

With a little planning you can make part of this  soup while you are at work, then finish it off once you arrive home. The cabbage topping can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator, the lime juice will keep everybody fresh. If you don’t have time to make totopos, you can certainly use your favorite corn tortilla chips.

I make Pozolé during the holidays for guests and especially on cool days here in Texas. Traditionally in my husband’s family, this dish is made with pork.  I have used whole cut up chicken, turkey drum sticks, and even left-over turkey from Thanksgiving to prepare it.  It’s just fabulous any which way you make it.  If you see cans of hominy on sale, stock up!  The only special ingredient here is the achioté, you’re best bet is to look at Fiesta (in Texas) or Google for the nearest latino/mexican market in your city.  If I could find one in Edmonton (Alberta), I’m sure you’ll find one in your area! 

 

Pozolé

  • Large pot or crock pot – the bigger the better!
  • Pork roast of some kind (shoulder or rump), fat trimmed.
  • Canned hominy (sorta like chick peas or garbanzo) – twice as much as the pork!
  • Achiote, six 1″ cubes (it comes as a brick in a box)
  • Vinegar – 1/4 cup
  • 3-5 Garlic cloves, whole,
  • 1 whole white onion, peeled and halved
  • Bouquet garni: 6 green cardamom pods, tbsp coriander seeds, tbsp black peppercorns, cilantro stems, smashed garlic cloves, 1-3 whole Serrano peppers (adjust to size and heat of the peppers, and to taste). Tie up in a sachet of cheesecloth or coffee filters.
  • 1 small green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 white onion (or shallots if you like the fancy stuff), fine slices
  • 2-3 limes, juiced
  • Optional horse radishes, sliced
  • Optional avocado, sliced or diced for garnish – alternative is guacamole 🙂
  • Optional cilantro, chopped roughly for garnish
  • Really good option is totopos (tortilla chips made by frying fresh corn tortillas – yum yum!)

This takes a while to make, you could let the crock pot do much of the work for you. Cover the pork roast with water and add a bit of salt, bouquet garni, whole onion and the garlic. Simmer the meat until mildly cooked, this was 4 hours on high in my crock pot. Remove the meat to cutting a board. Degrease the surface of the cooking liquid with a flat spoon, you can strain the liquids to get all the little bits out and the garlic and onion to end up with a “cleaner” soup.  Reserve the strained liquid and bouquet garni, add these back to the pot.

Chop up the achiote then grind up in a blender with a cup of warm water. You may need to add another cup of water after pouring out the first bit of spiced liquid, because it tends to clump up in the bottom, grind/blend some more until it’s all dissolved. Add blender contents to de-greased liquid in your pot. Turn on heat to medium-high if you turned it off to blend the achiote. Add the vinegar and salt to taste.

It’s best to wash the hominy, as with any canned beans. Add hominy (maïze treated with a lye solution) to the pot. The pork can be torn with a fork into large chucks, while removing visible fat too. Add chucks of meat to the pot. You may want to adjust the salt to taste. Stir gently to be sure the achiote is well distributed. Turn down the heat a bit. Let it simmer away for as long as you can stand it, about 30mins to 1 hour.

In the meantime you can prepare the toppings:  Toss in a bowl the shredded cabbage, onion, lime juice, and radishes. The more lime juice the better! You may need more if they are small or do not carry too much juice. Option to add the cilantro here. Slice the avocado right before serving.

To serve:  Ladle soup into a bowl, take a balance of hominy, broth and meat. Top with the cabbage mixture, I like to add a lot of it for the contrast in temperature and flavor. Avocado can go on last, or be eaten on the side with totopos…

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Last night I noticed my jar of herbes de provence in the spice rack.  I bought these herbs solely to make cassoulet after receiving “Julie & Julia” and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by the lovely Julia Child as a gift from my mother-in-law.  I read the cookbook as if it was the most riveting spy novel ever written.  I fell even more in love with food with every chapter. 

cassoulet lite

The original recipe involves many steps, loads of preparation, and something I have very little of: time.  I would literally have to hire a babysitter and work in the kitchen all day to follow everything Julia et ses compagnes say in the book.  It’s a task reserved for a holiday dinner, where babysitters are abound and generally will take the baby before I have to ask someone for help.  (Thanks grandma and grandpa!)

I’ve played with a few of the key ingredients to concoct a simple lighter version of cassoulet.  Herbes de provence of course play the herb role here.

  • 3 slices bacon
  • half of a large white onion, diced
  • one clove garlic, minced
  • one carrot, diced
  • one 15 oz can northern beans, drained
  • half of a red bell pepper
  • two Roma tomatoes, diced
  • tablespoon herbes de provence
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • roasted chicken, divide into portions, remove fat and skin

Cut the bacon into 1/4 inch pieces and spread out in a cold pan.  Turn on the heat to a medium-low, just to get the fat to render out of the bacon.  Remove any bits of bacon which start to get crispy.  Add the onion and sauté for two minutes.  Add the garlic and carrot, sprinkle the herbs, salt and pepper and stir.  When the garlic is soft, about one minute, add the tomatoes and beans.  Stir to begin deglazing the pan with the juice of the tomatoes, turn up the heat to medium-high and pour in the stock scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add the chicken, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

I cut the veggies in a small dice so that they melt away when simmered.  The beans are left intact, and the chicken pieces should be heated through.

My son loves beans, all I have to say is come have some “beans” and he gobbles up his bowl of cassoulet and asks for seconds.  This is why I love food and sharing with my family!

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It’s 6:32pm. 

Baby is tired and crying after a bottle.  Husband is looking in the kitchen for a morsel to eat.  Boy is running around chasing the dog.  What’s for dinner?

This is a daily question.  You know it’s coming, and even about what time.  Yet I, like so many other moms I’m sure,  can’t fathom what to bring to the table as the minutes tick away on the wall clock in the kitchen.  Food is what I enjoy in life, why does it cause me such turmoil on a weekly basis? 

Pick up the baby.  Let the dog outside.  Get a glass of milk for the boy.  A moment to think, please!

It’s the end of the month so there’s not much in the fresh persuasion left in the fridge.  I look in the freezer.  Bingo! Perogies!!!  Luckily, there’s an onion and some butter in the fridge, exactly what you would use to brighten up lazy frozen perogies.  Any sausage or ham would have done wonderfully IF I HAD THEM.  I boil some water and drop in my hand-made potato-cheddar-bacon perogies (I will post the recipe later).  Meanwhile I throw butter and onion slices in a pan.  Drain those perogies and plop them on top of the onions.  I crank up the heat because everyone is waiting for dinner

Distraction.  Baby wants to go lay down.  Dog wants back inside.  Boy is pulling shirt and out of milk.  “What are you making dear?” 

The smell of something burning grabs my attention.  My onions!  I put down the baby and tell my boy to stand back as I race to the stove to find something rather disheartening.  This..

…had turned to this…    

Onions are scorched.  Perogies are dry.  Dinner in a hurry is a hard thing to ask for, especially during the week.  I should have kept the heat down or not turned around.  You’d think I would have learned this by now, the hare never wins the race.  I pick off the onions and add a little butter to the pan to try to salvage this disaster of an attempt to “quickly” prepare dinner.  Top them off with plain yogurt and dig in.  At least I didn’t have to start over with something else.

Next time I will be more like a tortoise.

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With the Texas heat here to stay, I try to keep the kitchen cool.  It’s hard to resist my brand new oven, it’s so shiny.  It calls out “please cook some more!” 

Sorry oven, I know cookies would be awesome right now, but no I can’t.  

Instead, we’ll have to make something out of the left over rotiserie chicken and the eggplant that is softening in the fridge.  A wrap sounds good!  Here’s what I grabbed out of the ol’ ice box: 

  • the eggplant, it’s a small Rosa Bianca, diced         

    Left Over Chicken Transformed

  • half a yellow bell pepper, diced
  • small Serrano pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 key lime
  • handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • salt and pepper

This is simple, just sauté the eggplant in plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  

Add the garlic for the last minute.  When it’s soft and slightly golden brown, remove from the pan and throw in the remaining ingredients.  

Sauté to your desired tenderness, add the eggplant back in to incorporate and heat through.  Pour the lime juice over and adjust the salt to taste. 

I put the warm veggies and chicken into a tortilla with some romaine lettuce.  You could eat it on its own or even as a side dish with something else.  

 

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Fish Tacos

I’ve only recently jumped on the fish taco band wagon. When I first moved down south, and Lent came around, I was bombarded with fish tacos every where. “Yuck! Who in their right mind would eat that?” Well, I’ve matured since then and so have my taste buds. Also thanks to the Spanish influence of my hubby, I found a way to embrace this odd dish.

Basa fillets on a bed of red onion and yellow bell peppers

I start with fillets of striped pangasius, which were pretty cheap (2.49 per lb). Sprinkle the fish with garlic powder, paprika, sea salt, pepper.

Heat a large skillet, big enough for your fish with space to party in the pan. Heat some oil until nearly smoking, then gently add the fillets. Cook on each side until crisp and golden. Remove the fish and add slices of red onion and yellow bell pepper. If the pan is a little dry, you can add a little more oil. Sea salt over the hot fish fresh out of the pan gives it the best enhancement of flavour. You can spritz some lime juice over top as well.

Serve with warm tortillas, chopped cilantro, tomato slices and avocado. Enjoy 🙂

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