Round Up Post

Hi Y’all!

It’s been a really long time since I posted to this blog. If you look at my last blog post, you can see I didn’t carry out that resolution very well.

I’ve got a good excuse, I promise. I’ve been in graduate school. I’m ready to graduate this May, wahoo! I promise you haven’t missed much. You see, while I’ve been in school I haven’t had much time at all to cook. And when I have had time to cook, all I’ve been able to do is take a hasty iPhone photo of it.

I stopped blogging quite a while ago when my got life so busy I could barely keep clean underwear in my house. That’s the best way I can think to describe going to graduate school. It’s like someone hits the fast forward button on your life so you barely have time to do your laundry or vacuum behind the refrigerator, but simultaneously it feels like someone else hit the pause button because it is the looooongest couple years of your life. I had someone say to me a few weeks ago: “Well it was your choice to go back to school!” I’m not saying I didn’t sign up for it. I definitely did. But there is no way I truly understood what I was getting myself into before I was already knee deep in it.

It bums me out big time that I haven’t had much time to do is to cook like I used too. It’s one of the best forms of stress relief for me. But it was the thing that had to give. M started a new job last year that requires him to travel four days out of the week, so most days I’m fending for myself anyway.

As another form of stress relief, I’ve kept my toes in the shallow end of the blogging world by reading this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and that. Haven’t hand time to comment on anything, but I’ve been reading them all religiously!

I’m starting to come out of the fog now. I’ll be done by May 13!! (Woo hoo-hallelujah- jimney-crickets!) Aside from having that degree in hand, I’m looking forward to joining the real world that keeps their eyebrows regularly groomed. It truly is the little things in life.

Because I haven’t cooked much, I don’t have many updates for you all in the way of recipes. I have managed to snap a few iPhone photos on the rare occasions I’ve been in the kitchen. Here’s a roundup:

First one isn’t cooking but it is food! I think these parsley seedlings from last summer are super cute. I grew them on my front porch and started sprouting them in these empty eggshells.

parsley

My dad now thinks I am a professional baker after tasting my all-time favorite no knead bread recipe from the NYT. Don’t tell him that I barely had to lift a finger! Hint, pair with my favorite dipping oil.

no knead bread

A lentil salad I made for my mom a few weeks ago after she had surgery. Martha knows best. First of all, I LOVE anything with goat cheese, but I subbed tomatoes for bell pepper because of what I had on hand. Tip: Trader Joes has amazing pre-cooked lentils in their refrigerated section if you are in a pinch. Definitely will be making this again this summer!

Lentil Salad

My old stand by and one of my first ever blog posts, chicken soup:

Chicken soup

I’ve become obsessed with my new milk frother and pour over from Sur la table. Some breakfast highlights:

Capegg muffin french toast breakfast pour over coffee

A lazy after work dinner, perfected…olives, blood orange, almonds, peppered goat cheese, blueberries, hummus & pita:

Cheese three

My fav liquids of the moment include blueberry lemon drops, lemon and mint infused water and green smoothies:

blueberry lemon droplemon mint water Smoothie

And I saved the best, dessert, for last! A chocolate birthday cake, chocolate covered oreos, chocolate covered strawberries:

Birthday cake chocolate covered oreos chocolate covered strawberries

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Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie was what kicked this all off for me.  This summer after we moved in to our new apartment and I unwrapped all of our wedding gifts, which included every kitchen gadget I could ever dream of, I set out to cook and bake as much as possible.  I started with a recipe from Joy of Cooking, biscuits.  That same day I decided to actually make something.  The biscuits were delicious but I really wanted to cook something and Chicken Pot Pie sounded delicious!  It came out looking picture perfect.  I was amazed that I hadn’t messed it up somehow.  It was that confidence booster that led me to try other recipes and ultimately begin this blog.  Since that day I have made the Chicken Pot Pie several times. Twice for company and few times just for Marc and I.  It makes amazing leftovers- it reheats wonderfully.  I haven’t made it in awhile because I was afraid of overdoing it and getting sick of it.  But this last Friday it seemed like the perfect dinner after Marc had a long week at work.

There are quite a few steps involved in making the pie.  Cooking the chicken, creaming the chicken, the veggies and the pie crust.  But it is so worth it.  I usually save chicken from a large roasted chicken I made earlier in the week and use it for this recipe.  Or if you don’t have the time for that, a rotisserie chicken bought from the grocery store works nicely.  Recently, a cookbook that shall remain nameless suggested using alfredo sauce as the filling for chicken pot pie to save a step.  I almost threw up when I read that.  The filling is what makes or breaks the pie, my friend.  It is so worth it to make your creamed chicken from scratch.  And really, it doesn’t take more than ten minutes.  So here are the recipes and steps below. All of this comes from Joy of Cooking, a cookbook I continue to go back to time and time again.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Leftover or store bought, precooked chicken breast is perfect here.

Prepare:

Creamed Chicken (see recipe below)

Prepare the dough for:

Pie Dough (see recipe below)

Set aside.  Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Grease a pie pan. Heat in a large skillet over medium-high heat:

2 tbsp. butter

Add and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes:

1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 small celery ribs, sliced

Stir the vegetables into the creamed chicken, along with:

3/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
3 tbsp. minced parsely

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Roll out the pie dough on top of the dish and tuck the edges down in against the dish sides. Brush the top with:

2 tbsp. beaten egg

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is browned, 30 to 40 minutes.

Creamed Chicken Recipe

Melt in a large saucepan over medium-low heat:

4 tbsp. butter

Add and whisk until smooth:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add:

1 1/2 cups milk or half and half

Whisk until smooth. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from heat, scrape the inside of the saucepan and which vigorously to break up any lumps. Return the pan to the heat and whisking, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Stir in:

cooked chicken

bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and season to taste with:

fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
grated or ground nutmeg

Pie Dough Recipe

I prefer to use my food processor to make my pie dough.  It makes the process of cutting in the butter and shortening much more hassle free.  For the ice water, make sure it is super cold by placing ice cubes in the bowl of water.  Pie crust is so temperamental when it comes to temperature.  Because of this, make sure also to chill your shortening.  This recipe make double the amount needed for Chicken Pot Pie, so freeze the other half for another time or just half the recipe.

Sift together:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Add:

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/4 chilled vegetable shortening

Cut half the shortening into the flour mixture until it has the consistency of cornmeal. Cut in the remaining half until it is pea-sized. Sprinkle the dough with:

6 tbsp. ice water

Blend the water gently into the dough until it just hold together. If necessary to hold the ingredients together, add:

1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. ice water

Divide the dough in half, shape each into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator or freeze for later use.

Cornish Game Hen

I wanted to make something special for Marc since he just got back from a two week long business trip.  What is something yummy and fancy sounding that won’t break the bank?  Cornish Game Hen was my answer.  What is wonderful about Cornish Game Hen?  It is inexpensive, especially when you buy it on sale.  Because of its small size, you can cook it quickly at a high temperature to create a crispy skin and succulent meat.  It is the perfect size for two people.   You don’t have to do to much to make it come out tasting amazing.  I know a lot of people believe in basting their poultry in butter or olive oil, but I don’t.  Chicken skin provides its own natural amount of fat to give great flavor and crispyness as long as you know the correct temperature to cook it at and how to season it.  I served this up with my veggies and mashed potatoes.

Cornish Game Hen Recipe

Place a 10″ skillet in the oven and preheat to 450° F.  Meanwhile, remove giblets from:

1 Cornish Game Hen, 1 1/2-  2 lbs.


Rinse hen under cold running water and pat dry with paper toweles to remove all moisture.  If the bird’s skin is moist, it will not brown easily.  Butterfly the hen by laying it breast side down and cutting out the backbone.  Freeze the backbone for later use in soups or stocks.  Flip the hen over so that it is laying breast side up and lays flat.  Season the hen generously with:

salt
pepper
thyme

If using dried thyme, press herbs firmly to the skin so that it adheres.  If using fresh thyme, insert whole sprigs in between the skin and the breast meat.  Fresh thyme creates a fresh and aromatic flavor and I recommend it if you have it on hand.

When the oven reaches 450 F, carefully remove the skillet from the oven using hot pads.  Place the hen in the skillet breast side up.  The hen will sizzle.  This is good- it will prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Place the hen in the oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, remove the hen from the oven and flip it breast side down. Return to oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, remove hen from oven once more and return it to breast side up.  Lower heat to 400 ° F and return to oven for 20 more minutes.  Remove from oven and cover with tin foil for 10-15 minutes to allow juices to rest.    Cut hen in half down the breast bone and serve one half on each plate.

Chicken Saltimbocca

You know how Rachel Ray likes to say, “Yum-oh” when she tastes something she really likes? I couldn’t help but to cry it out when I tasted this Chicken Saltimbocca.   Honestly, I am rather annoyed every time I hear her use this phrase.  Almost as annoying as when she calls extra virgin olive oil “EVOO”.  But it seemed like the only appropriate explicative when I put this warm, melty and savory chicken in my mouth.  The best part is that it took less than 20 minutes to make.

I found this recipe in a cookbook from Williams-Sonoma,  Simple Suppers.  It was VERY simple to make.  I made one adaptation because I did not have fresh sage.  Instead, I subbed dried herbs de provence.

Chicken Saltimbocca

Prepare the chicken: Preaheat the broiler.  Using a sharp knife, cut 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make 8 pieces total.  Place 1 piece between 2 sheets of waxed paper.  Using a meat pounder or the flat bottom of a heavy pan, lightly pound the chicken until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Repeat with the remaining pieces.  Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with 1 tbsp. herbs de provence.  Pat the herbs firmly so it adheres to the meat.

Cook the chicken: In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 tbsp. of butter.  Add the chicken and cook until golden on the underside, 2-3 minutes.  Turn the chicken and cook until just opaque throughout, about 3 minutes more.  Top each piece with 1 slice of fontina cheese and 1 slice of prosciutto. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and place under the broiler to crisp the prosciutto and melt the cheese, about 1 minute.

Make the sauce: While the chicken is in the oven, add 1 tbsp. butter to the pan. Add 2 minced shallots and saute until softened, about 1 minute. Ad 1/2 cup chicken broth and cook, stirring to scrape up the brown bits on the pan bottom, until the sauce is slightly reduced, 1-2 minutes.  Squeeze in about 1tsp. lemon juice and stir.  Divide the chicken among dinner places, spoon the sauce and shallots over the chicken, and serve immediately.

Chicken Soup with Parsley Quick Drop Biscuits

Today was a lazy Sunday for the two of us and I could think of nothing better than  Chicken Soup for dinner.  It is delicious served with warm biscuits or matzoh balls. I chose Quick Drop Biscuits tonight.

Here is a recipe for chicken soup that I have improvised through trial and error over the past two years. It was inspired by the chicken soup that my father in law serves, but is not a replica. He seems to have a special touch with this dish, so I would never pretend to copy it. Instead it was an inspiration to create my own delicious chicken soup. One day, I will get him to teach me his secrets.

Chicken Soup Recipe
Heat in a large soup pot over medium-low heat:
3 tbsp. butter

Add and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender but not browned, 5-10 minutes:
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium celery rib, diced
1 large onion, diced

Stir in:
3 cups shredded cooked chicken, picked off a whole roasted or rotisserie chicken
1 parsnip, washed but unpeeled and cut into large chunks
2 celery ribs, sliced into medium pieces
2 carrots, washed but unpeeled and sliced into medium pieces
12 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 35 minutes. Stir in:
1 whole bunch of curly parsley (not the flat leaf Italian variety), long stems removed
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Return lid and simmer until parsley wilts, about 10 minutes.  Serve piping hot.  This soup is excellent as leftovers.  Just reheat and serve again and again.

Warm, doughy, flakey.  Bliss.  This biscuits are a favorite of my childhood.  My mom used to whip these up and serve them with butter and honey for breakfast, but these biscuits are for suitable for any meal and easy to make.  You  just plop them down on the pan, without the hassle of biscuit cutter.

“Quick Drop Biscuits” from The Joy of Cooking

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Sift together into a large bowl:
1 3/4 cups all- purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Cut in, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the size of small peas:
4 to 6 tablespoons chilled butter or shortening

Make a well in the center. Add all at once:
1 cup milk
1 handful of coarsely chopped parsley*

Stir the dough 1 scant minute. Drop walnut size dabs of dough from a spoon onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

* The parsley is an addition that I made to this recipe to create a more savory flavor to go along with the chicken soup.

Today I ask you, the reader: What recipes do you love to cook at are inspired by your family members?