Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Filipino Chicken Adobo

At our recent Nationality Dinner, we got the opportunity to try Filipino Chicken Adobo. My husband really enjoyed it, and was chatting up the cook about it. She shared that this was one of her favorite dishes of her mother's, and while she wasn't a big cook, that it was easy enough for her to make it.

When I made it, and let it simmer on the stove for a couple of hours, but maybe the next time I would try a slow cooker. While I don't know exactly how true to the authentic dish this is, it still made a great dinner!

I'm sharing this at Eat at Home's Ingredient Spotlight: Chicken

Filipino Chicken Adobo
recipe adapted from Food Network

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4-5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or pork), cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon brown sugar

In a large pot, heat the oil to shimmering over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in batches to brown the outsides of the meat. Once all the meat is browned, return all the meat to the pan, and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, then lower to the heat, and simmer at least 30 minutes or as much as 4 hours. Serve with steamed rice.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Philly Cheesesteak

One of my husband's favorite heart attack in a stripmall resturants serves a Philly Cheesesteak that calls to him. I am not one to judge a person's food weaknesses, (hello Pickle & Peanut Butter sandwiches on my end) so one week he was having a big craving for these sandwiches, I said "Why don't we just make one at home?"

I did some basic recipe skimming before hitting the grocery store, and once the kids were tucked into bed, we had some fun kinda winging it. Turns out we did exactly what most recipes said to do, hooray for us!

My husband and I made these into our "Cheat Meal", so I swiped my toasted buns with mayo...'cuz it ain't a cheat meal if it doesn't have mayo.

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches
Serves 2

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 green pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 sweet onion, sliced into thin wedges
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound of thinly sliced roast beef from the deli counter
4 slices provolone cheese
2 Hoagie buns

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add the oil, heat until shimmering, then add the peppers and onions. Cook until veggies are soft, with a little carmelization, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic powder and salt and pepper, stir to combine. If your griddle is large enough, push them off to side, if not, remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add the meat to the pan and cook, stirring to break up the pieces until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add the veggies back in, (if you have a big skillet, put your buns cut side down on the griddle - where the veggies used to be - to toast them) and top the meat and veggie mixture with cheese slices to melt.

Once the buns are toasted and the cheese is melted, divide meat/veggie/cheesy deliciousness between the two buns and serve.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Slow Cooker Boiled Peanuts

With football season approaching, I decided to make another run at Boiled Peanuts for football snackin'. And when I saw this recipe to make them in the slow cooker, I was all over it. Boiled peanuts are pretty easy to begin with, and putting them in the slow cooker makes it SUPER easy.

Everything went into the slow cooker at 10 pm, then we went to bed. Waking up at 3:00 am smelling boiled peanuts was a pretty weird experience, but the peanuts weren't done until the next afternoon. It's hard to be a slacker and still plan ahead, but these peanuts make it worth it.

We ate these with Oven Baked Chicken Wings and salad for a fun Friday night dinner while watched preseason football. Yummmm yum.

Slow Cooker Boiled Peanuts
recipe adapted from Southern Living's Slow Cooker Recipes

1.5 pounds natural whole peanuts (not roasted)
1 gallon water
5 ounces kosher salt

Use a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Add water to slow cooker, stir in the salt until dissolved. Add the peanuts (most will float). Cover and cook on High for 18 hours. Drain peanuts before serving. Store in frig up to 2 weeks, can freeze up to 2 months.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What to do with 5 pounds of carrots?

I bought a 5 pound bag of carrots at Sams last week. It seemed like a good idea at the store, and it was priced right, until I got that ginormous bag on my kitchen counter. Wow...thatsa whole lotta carrots.

Not to be easily defeated, this is how I attacked the bag:

2 pounds cut into carrot sticks for snacking (take that expensive baby carrots)
1 pound cut up and prepped with onion (made good use of my labeler!) for Slow Cooker Balsamic Carrots

This next dishes are for next week's menu plan, so I'll prep those next week:
1/2 pound set aside for Carrot Slaw (new recipe - thinking maybe Alton's recipe?)
1 pound for Foil Packet Grilled Carrots
1/2 pound left for topping salads or random recipes where a carrot might be a nice addition.

Not bad for $3, eh? Three side dishes, snacks for a loooong time and still some leftover!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Coconutty Frosting and a Nationality Dinner

Our Young Adults group at church hosted a Nationality Dinner for our August meeting. The email invite said: "Please bring a special dish or drink from your own nationality to share with others."

My husband and I couldn't decide what nationality to claim: I come from a Dutch background, he's German and Scottish, and neither one of us has a strong tie to a specific food of "the mother country" (Besides my pickled herring, but my husband strongly vetoed that one right away!)

So we brainstormed for a few weeks, made fun of each other's ethnicities, bragged about how our children wouldn't pickup each other's stereotypical ethnic traits, ya know, typical marriage banter, until finally we were T-minus 4 days away. A compromise needed to be made.

It finally came down to: my Great-Grandmother's Dutch Chocolate Cake, topped with German Chocolate Cake Frosting. (This recipe is one I mostly associate with that type of frosting, as my husband wasn't the one recipe hunting for frosting recipes, so I made the call) But a delicious cake is still a delicious cake, no matter if the recipe came through Ellis Island. And this is delicious cake!

At the dinner, there was English Bread Pudding, Mom's Special Meatloaf, Indiana Poppy Seed Casserole, Filipino Chicken Adobo & Rice, Minestrone Soup, Lasagna, and French Dessert Crepes. It was a great potluck. My son was highly impressed by the Triscuits, so much for expanding his food palate!

Coconutty Frosting
recipe adapted from Southern Living Slow Cooker Recipes
Makes 4 1/4 cups
I made a 1/2 recipe for a 9 x 13 inch pan

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (I could only find sweetened)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (I used chopped almonds)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine milk, sugar, butter, and egg yolks in a 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until frosting is thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans, and vanilla. Let cool.

Here is my cake with frosting distributed all over the cake, (resist the urge to grab fingerfuls off this...I dare you!)

and here is the cake, ready for the potluck!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thai Peanut Dressing

Big Salad Night is usually not a highly rated dining experience at our house. I seem to be more "meat and potatoes" than my husband, so he almost has to twist my arm into giving in. But, if we can get some great salad ingredients or salad dressings, I'm much more interested.

So my husband whipped up this salad dressing, and I went on the hunt for acceptable 'toppins. (For some reason, we sang Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins while I started chopping - it gets stuck in my brain whenever I say "toppings" over and over.)

The salad ended up being a great rendition of teamwork, and it reminded me of the Asian Chopped Salad at Crispers. The leftover sauce would be great as sauce for Thai Pizza or as a dip for vegetables.

Now tell me you don't have that song stuck in your head. :)

Thai Peanut Dressing
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
Serves 20

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional - for garnish)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves (optional - for garnish)

Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/2 cup of cold water; set aside. Whisk in the soy sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, white vinegar, sesame oil, and 1 cup warm water in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 30 second intervals, whisking each time until the sauce darkens and thickens. Serve warm. Garnish with chopped peanuts and mint leaves as desired.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Breadcrumb Stuffed Tomatoes

Julia Child and I share the same birthday, August 15th, so it feels right that I've been slowly working my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking this past week. She would have been 99 this year, although mine is just a mini-milestone 30. I didn't mean to commemorate her around my birthday, it was just a happy accident this cookbook called out to me from the shelf at the library last week.

After I got into the book, I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed by the technicality and precision of the recipes, let alone the diversity of the food culture. (Pate? Brains? Aspics?) I am connecting most with the Egg Chapter and Vegetable Chapter. I haven't made it into the Desserts and Cakes chapter...I still have 2 more weeks on my library hold!

This recipe is called "Tomatoes a la Provencale" in the book, but I don't feel French or "cool" enough to try to call my version that!

Breadcrumb Stuffed Tomatoes
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

6 tomatoes about 4 inches in diameter
Salt and Pepper

1 clove finely minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced onion
4 tablespoons fresh basil or parsley or parsley only (I used 1 tsp dried herbs)
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used some from my freezer bread bag)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, and gently press out the juice and seed. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Combine garlic, onion, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil and bread crumbs in a bowl. Fill each tomato half with a spoonful or two of the mixture, dividing the mixture among all the tomatoes. Arrange the halves in a roasted pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until tomatoes are tender and the bread crumbs are browned lightly.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Frying is almost always better tastewise. Although, everyone has their own level of house stink they want to deal with after a marathon frying session. I think I would put up with "Frying House Stink" for only a handful of things...Bang Bang Shrimp, Hushpuppies, and The Best Chicken Strips.

Since I have never had falafel before, I was leery of creating "The Stink", but the patties made it worthwhile. The outside of the patties were crispy and flaky and great with the Greek yogurt. My mixture did not need any extra flour - I'm sure it's because I used dried beans that I had cooked and stashed in the freezer and not canned.

My husband and I really liked these, but I overdid it with the onion and garlic in the mix, so it's a good thing we both ate them.  We like to eat dinner leftovers for breakfast (Yes, I'm weird) and I did NOT enjoy garlic breath at 7:30 am.
Next time I'm trying Crockpot Falafel . Cuz if it can be made in the crockpot, I'm all over it.


adapted from Dinner with Julie
Makes about 20 falafel balls or patties
( I used an ice cream scoop & got 16 patties)

1- 19 oz. (540 mL) can chick peas, rinsed and drained 

1/2 cup chopped onion

1-2 garlic cloves, peeled

4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. salt
 (Use 1 tsp if not using canned beans)
 1/4 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour (plus extra, if needed)
1 tsp. baking powder
canola oil, for frying

Put the chick peas, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, salt and chili flakes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined but not smooth.

Add the flour and baking powder and pulse until you have a soft mixture that you can roll into balls without sticking to your hands. Add another spoonful or so of flour, if you need to. Roll the dough into meatball-sized balls, and if you like, flatten each into a little pattie.

In a shallow pot or skillet, heat about 1/2″ of canola oil until it’s hot but not smoking. Test it with a bit of falafel mixture or a scrap of bread – the oil should bubble up around it. Cook the falafel for a few minutes per side, without crowding the pan (which will cool down the oil), until they are golden. Transfer to paper towels. (You could get away with using just a skiff of oil – if you do this, best to leave the falafels round, so that you can roll them around in the pan to brown all sides.)

Serve in pitas with tzatziki, chopped cucumber, red onion and tomato.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thai Peanut Salsa Sauce

Salsa...in a Thai dish...whaaaaaa? I've seen recipes for Pad Thai with ketchup in it, but this one really threw me. But my curiosity started to take hold...and I had an almost excessive amount of salsa in my pantry, so I was intrigued but still skeptical.

I got cooking, reserving the chicken and vegetables on the side, just in case the sauce was unappetizing. Once I whisked the sauce together with the salsa, I knew this would be a surprisingly suitable dinner! So everything got combined, and dinner was served.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with the outcome of the dish. The original recipe called for this to be served with pasta, but we would prefer it over white rice the next time. The fresh cilantro really makes this dish, adding a fresh punch to balance the lime/soy/fish sauce flavors. The leftovers were well received the next few days, and I almost think the flavors developed and got better. Yummy.

So yes, I guess, salsa does work in Thai food!

Thai Peanut Salsa Sauce
recipe adapted from Recipe Shoebox
Serves 6 - 8

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
3 cups chopped stir fry veggies (I used broccoli, carrot and celery)
2 cups salsa
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons. honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
White rice, for serving

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken pieces and cook, stirring occasionally until the chicken  is almost completely cooked. (When it loses the pink color - don't overcook) Remove the chicken from the pan onto a plate, add the other tablespoon of vegetable oil, and reheat to shimmering. Add the vegetables and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove to the plate with the chicken.
To the skillet, add the salsa, peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce, honey, and soy sauce. Whisk to combine, and heat over medium heat until the sauce thickens. Return the chicken and vegetables to the skillet, stir to combine and heat through to finish cooking the chicken. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro. Serve with white rice

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stove Top Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is always a hit in our house. I've tried Barefoot Contessa's Mac and Cheese, Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese, Cream Cheese Mac & Cheese, Mac & Cheese & Ham Casserole, and Buffalo Mac & Cheese

But in a pinch, the blue box is the back up quick meal that I know most of the family will be glad to eat. (I'm usually the one that is the least excited - and don't even get me started on how repulsed I am by leftover blue box Macaroni and Cheese after it's cooled. It goes back to my childhood and eating waaaay too many weird textured noodles.)

This only used one pan, and was very fast to stir up once the noodles are cooked. It was creamy, and not grainy. It had an almost commercial mouth-feel, and according to Nestle "resists curdling" so it could be a foolproof recipe. Now to find some evaporated milk without some weird ingredients, (dipotassium phosphate and carrageenan, anyone?) and I'll be sold. But, it was a big hit with everyone, even the 3 year old asked for seconds, and the leftovers were great the next day.

Stove Top Mac & Cheese
recipe from Alton Brown
Serves 6 to 8 servings as a sidedish

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk (My can was 5 oz)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Skillet Lasagna

My favorite way to make Lasagna is Slow Cooker Lasagna, but an easy way to make Lasagna without all the work really appealed to me. Hello, Skillet Lasagna!

This sauce was light, the noodles came out perfectly cooked, and I made this meatless and it still came together well. I would have loved to add some roasted vegetables or spinach, but my crisper was empty.

I thought I would be efficient, and stacked two noodles while I broke them up, but didn't separate them well enough when I threw them into the pan, so some stuck together while it was cooking. While I stirred it, I had to work some of the noodles apart. Next time I'll break them up one by one.

The only downfall of this recipe was that it needs constant attention for 30 minutes as this has lots of stirring and steps. If you are the type of cook that can chop the accompanying salad, stir the skillet on the stove and sip a glass of wine all at the same time, this is a no-brainer. If you cook while a cartoon keeps half of your kids occupied, but he still insists on sneaking into the kitchen to lick your leg (seriously - I couldn't make that up) and the other child screams his unhappiness from his high chair about the teething toy you keep picking up off the floor, washing and rinsing, then repeating, you might need another adult around to run interference while you whip this up.

The best way to eat this is to scoop a little ricotta on your fork with some noodles. Perfect combo. The leftovers were well received by the grownups the next day.

Skillet Lasagna
recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook
Serves 4 to 6

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
Table salt
3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound meatloaf mix (I went meatless)
10 curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch lengths (about 8 oz)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese (I used pureed cottage cheese)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves (I used 1 tablespoon dried basil)

1. Pour the tomatoes with their juice into a 4 cup liquid measuring cup. Add water until the mixture measures 4 cups.
2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the onion begins to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking apart the meat, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
3. Scatter the pasta over the meat but do not stir.

Pour the diced tomatoes with their juice and the tomato sauce over the pasta.

Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dot with heaping tablespoons of the ricotta, cover, and let stand off the heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Serve.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am always on the hunt for the next best chocolate chip cookie recipe. The "One"...so to speak.

Through all my "Cookie Dating" and recipe taste testing, I have not been satisfied enough to settle down with just one recipe. But I keep searching. Lucky for my husband, he gets to eat all the losers. I have collected a few top contender recipes: Best Biggest RecipeBest Don't Wanna Bake Cookies and these take the top spot for Best Big Cookies.

These made HUGE impressive looking cookies. I was skeptical of the dough ball manipulating, but you can't argue with results.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook
Makes 18 LARGE cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugars at medium speed until smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat on medium low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beater as needed with a a rubber spatula. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the chocolate chips until just incorporated.
4. Divide the dough into 18 portions, each about 1/2 cup, and roll them between your hands into balls. Holding one dough ball with your fingers, pull the dough apart into two equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and with the jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough's uneven surface. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown and the edges start to harden but the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Curried Cauliflower

Holy superfoods, Batman!  Cauliflower and curry? Double superfoods!
Sheryl's introduction to this recipe in her cookbook that they "like to call 'cauliflower couscous' because of the final texture." It does create an interesting texture. My food processor did all the heavy lifting for this prep. I grated the carrot, chopped up some onion, then grated up all the cauliflower by pulsing away on one button.

My husband said he wouldn't mind eating cauliflower, if it was like this. (I can sneak in a roasted cauliflower in here and there, but that's pushing his tolerance of cauliflower) That again proves he is a great sport, and willingly eater of anything I whip up. 

My 3 year old commented after his obligatory bite that it was "spicy" which led to a double-meaning filled lesson in "yes, it has lots of spices in it, but it's not heat-spicy" I think I hurt his small brain.

I thought it was great, as I love cauliflower and curry. It was a vegetable side dish that could easily be swapped or subbed for a carb. The original recipe had cinnamon in it, which I added a small pinch, and was still not too thrilled about.  When I make this again, I'll leave out the cinnamon.

Curried Cauliflower

1 tablespoon canola, vegetable or olive oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 medium size onion, diced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons mild yellow curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup vegetable broth (or water)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used lime)
1 large head cauliflower steam removed, grated
Salt and black pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carrots, onion and garlic and saute
until they soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in curry powder & cumin.
Add the broth and lemon juice and cook, stirring gently to prevent the veggies from sticking to the bottom
of the pot. Add the grated cauliflower and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir well.
Cover and let it steam for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once. The texture should be tender but not mushy.