Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cheddar Chicken Pie with Broccoli Sentinels (is Only Platonic Friends with the Curry Cabbage)

In my pantry today:

  • 1 frozen, unbaked pie shell
  • 1 can chicken breast, drained and rinsed
  • 2 c large broccoli florets
  • 2/3 c cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 “roasted chicken” flavored gravy packet
  • 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 c vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c minced onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • pinch asafoetida

I have had so. much. pie. this holiday season. It really is kind of ridiculous how pies culminate for an annual winter slaughter of the human diet and pride: pecan, caramel apple cheesecake, plain cheesecake with a mandarin orange pie winning the pie-ze this year for both deliciousness and moxie. After rounding out the last family jaunt yesterday with a pizza, I feel it is safe to start officially distancing myself from rich meals and desserts that do nothing but inadvertently complicate my health and/or well-being.

That being said, I made a pie for dinner tonight. Don’t you judge me.

In the freezer still lived the other half of a crust two-set I’d gotten on sale, canned chicken in the cupboard and cheese in the fridge. Oh, and fresh broccoli; that’s probably the healthiest and therefore most important part of things. Before you get to arranging health around the edge of your pie, start your onion and garlic in butter heating to M. After five or so minutes of making sure everything gets coated and tossed, add the turmeric and asafoetida; stir. While that’s being perpetrated drain and rinse the can of chicken and mix your gravy packet with almond milk. Add eggs to this mixture one at a time and whisk until blended. Return to the stove and stir in 1/3 c of broth and the chicken; toss everything together and spoon into the pie crust. Add the remainder of broth to the egg/gravy mixture. Arrange chunky florets around the edges and secure it all with a pour-over of casserole gravy. Bake in a 375° oven for 45 minutes, remove to sprinkle 1/3 c cheddar over and into the florets and continue baking until a knife comes out of the middle clean. And because I made this earlier today in advance of dinnertime, when I warm it back up at 35o° for 10m I will have sprinkled on another 1/3 c cheddar. This ended up being delicious in flavor, but a little unsatisfactory to me in consistency… then again, the bottom crust I found too soggy was forked off my plate and eaten by my wife. Still, my conscience tells me to go with just 3 spoons on this.

Also, while making that I had also started some cabbage that’s been waiting patiently in the fridge. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet — I don’t want to take the easy way out by throwing it into broth and declaring a soup; I’ve got plenty of that in the freezer right now. No, I want this cabbage to go places, travel the world and be better than freezer soup:

  • 1 medium head cabbage
  • 1/2 c onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1-2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp vegetable ghee
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp hot curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida

cabbageThis one’s easy. Start the mustard seeds out in a ghee-oiled pot heating to M. When it’s near full heat, add the onion and garlic. When the seeds start snapping, add the spices and stir into a pasty mess. Add a dash of broth. Add cabbage in by little handfuls, all the while mixing and adding broth as needed to get everything spiced right proper. Add enough broth to cover the pan bottom, then put a lid on it and dial the heat down to the L side of ML. I cannot yet give this spoons because I do not feel it is yet a finished product. Good luck to my imagination!

 

Advertisements

Enter the Christmas Basket, 2012

In my pantry today:2012basket2

Instead of actually typing out a list of everything in the 50+lb tupperware bins my brothers and I each received from mom and dad this year, here’s a snapshot of its contents on my kitchen table. To know why this is happening check out last year’s post explaining the wonder of these baskets. In fact, these baskets warrant quoting directly from that post:

You know all those things at World Market or Big Lots you’d like to try but don’t have the disposable income to waste? SANTA’S GOT YOUR BACK! Now, this is not to say my folks are highfalutin and can slap together jaunty foodwealth like this so easily — it is a process in which three equal baskets must be compiled over the weeks or even months before the holidays. My parents are more-than-admirably steadfast in their goal of sibling equality. It is a labor of love, and one for which I will gladly go ahead and clear out some cupboards.

In lieu of writing (and/or then typing) a list of every item, I’ll share a couple photos of some of my favorite individual basket items:

2012basket_bayleaveFlavored (cooking?) Oil: I imagine I understand why this might’ve been on the clearance rack. I mean, I “bay leave” why.

2012basket_ostrim

OSTRIM beef/ostrich “jerkee”: This might be more respectable were it named less like a nightmare about haircuts.

2012basket_larry

 

 

Larry the Cable Guy Cheesy Tuna Dinner: To be fair, not everything in the basket is necessarily intended to be edible. I don’t give two whits what a picture of Larry the Cable Guy tells me to do with my tuna.

Leftover Roast Beef Travels South of the Border

In my pantry today:

  • 1.5 c sliced roast beef, cut into chunks
  • 1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1.5 c vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c minced yellow onion
  • 1/2 lime, wedged
  • 4 tsp Taco Seasoning ganked from a boxed taco kit in the cupboard
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • pinch asafoetida

leftoverroastbeefSo I wasn’t even really planning at its onset to write about what I assumed would be a boring, last-minute meal. I was under the MS weather yesterday and have no idea from whence this amazing creation came. Thanks have to go to my dad’s amazing 14lb roast beef — nothing would have ended up this tasty without it. I cut up about 1/2 of the leftovers he sent us home with, stuck the other half in the freezer then took a step back and regarded the pile of meat on the counter before me. We love Indian food, but obviously there really aren’t a lot of recipes there including cow. I had no way to make gravy and not enough of the ingredients needed to throw together a Thai salad. The options here were limited — but there was cooked rice in the fridge and beans in the cupboard!

Start out the same way I always do — garlic and onion in oil warming to M. Just before it gets to full on M, reduce the heat to ML and let cook for about ten minutes while you cut up the roast beef, drain/rinse the beans and then, say, empty the dishwasher. When you return to the pan dust in your seasonings and mix everything into a paste; scrape the bottom clean as you do this, adding in little drips of broth to help the process. Add in beans; when coated completely, add in broth little by little until beans are halfway covered. Turn heat to M as you do this until near-boiling. Top with diced roast beef and lime. Turn heat back to ML and cover pot; walk away for 5-10m while the limes cook onto things. Come back, remove limes and mix meat into broth, adding enough more to nearly cover things now. Bring to a low boil on M then reduce to MreallyL for a few hours, checking in once or twice to make sure all the meat remains covered in liquid. The meat ended up getting much more tender and flavoring the vegetable broth with the black beans and lime to come out in its own gravy. This was a lick-the-bowl good meal over rice and earned every one of its 5 spoons!

 

 

Orange-Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate and a Pecan Crust

In my pantry today:

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c Bob’s Red Mill 5 grain rolled hot cereal
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2.25 cups mashed overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 c crushed pecan halves
  • 1/2-2/3 c dark chocolate chips
  • 5 drops doTerra® wild orange essential oil

chocolate_orangeYou know those chocolate oranges you find all over the place during the holidays — the ones that give you a delicious reason during times of culturally heightened stresses to hit something other than a coworker/friend/uncle/stranger/wall? That kind of holiday spirit is the inspiration, without the insinuation of violence, for these little loaves.

To make the batter, start out by putting all of your dry ingredients in a bowlobbread
together and putting in another bowl the butter and brown sugar. Cream those latter two, then add the mashed bananas; mix. Add the beaten egg; mix. Fold in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips. For a final touch, carefully drop wild orange oil in carefully, tasting after each until your orangey desires are met. Pour into whatever size loaf pans you’d like and crunch pecan halves over the top, pressing pecans gently into the wet mix. Bake at 350° for an hour, or until an inserted butter knife comes out clean. I combat the guilt of a stick of butter with the knowledge that I’m also feeding people I love whole wheat flour, whole grain oats, barley, rye, double flax and triticale (absolutely none of which you can taste over the banana, orange, chocolate and pecans). 5 spoons!

 

Vegetarian “Not Pie”

In my pantry today:

  • 1 can crescent rolls
  • 1/2 can red beans, drained
  • 2 c broccoli florets
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2/3 c sharp cheddar cheese, 1/2″ cubes
  • 1.5 c unsweeteend almond milk
  • 1 tsp vegetable ghee
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch asafoetida

notpie2It’s not a pot pie. In fact, it’s not even really a pie as the crow flies; having simply the spirit of a pie does not really qualify. Let’s just go with “Not Pie.” It’s not really macaroni and cheese either, since there’s no macaroni. But the spirit is strong in this one!

Sliver your garlic and cut your onion into tiny rectangles and saute them on ML until translucent; remove from the pan and set aside — but erstwhile you’ll have plenty of time to cut the veggies and mix a sauce. Give a quick stir fry to notpie1the small dices of carrot and broccoli florets until the broccoli goes from a waning HULK green to a more vibrant “HULK SMASH!” hue. Toss the broccoli, carrots, garlic and onions together in a baking dish. Cover them with the sauce you made by mixing cornstarch, egg and all above mentioned seasonings in with the almond milk; pour over dish and let bake for an hour at 350. Remove dish from oven, roll out from their can some crescent rolls and lay on top of the buffet below. Bake according to can-structions until golden browning appears. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two before digging in to see how this hot mess-erole turned out. Turns out, it was entrancingly delicious… but texturally deficient. I give it 4 spoons for flavor, but 3 spoons for consistency. Next time, I might be adventurous enough to try a bottom crust or perhaps a roux instead of cornstarch. We’ll see, because there will be a next time on this.

Oregano Bruschetta

In my pantry today:

oreganobruschettaStart out by slivering your garlic and putting it in an olive-oiled skillet warming to the M side of ML. While it slowly begins to crisp, get to quartering your little heirloom tomatoes. When the garlic begins to turn golden, remove the pan from heat and let it cool while you wash your cutting board and various utensils. Add one drop of the oregano oil to the partially-to-mostly-cooled pan and add the pan contents to the ‘maters. Toss, seal and let marinate overnight. On the morrow, serve after sitting outside the fridge long enough to come back to near-room temperature atop crostini, drizzling each with a little balsamic vinegar and sea salt. The oregano oil fills in any space left by the absence of fresh basil, being as savory a flavor as it is in this form. Things could really only have been made better by having baked the crostini myself — I know that it would’ve been made with love, which is no guarantee you’ll receive from a store bakery. 4 spoons with crostini, 5 without or with imagined others!

Lavender-Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

In my pantry today:
  • 1 box gluten-free white cake mix
  • 1 stick butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp. vanilla
  • 1.5 drops doTerra® lavender essential oil
  • 2/3 lb. powdered sugar
  • 1 c frozen blueberries
lavenderblueberrycheesecakeMix cake mix, butter and egg until crumbly rather than powdery. Pat down into a 9″x13″ pan, pushing sides slightly up. Have cream cheese and eggs at room temperature and mix cream cheese, eggs and vanilla until they are a smooth liquid — I used a food processor for this and I do not consider that in any way cheating.  Add powdered sugar to the food processor,  pulsing between every cup or so. Then — and here’s where I step blindly into the abyss — I added a drop and a half of lavender essential oil. In addition to smelling wonderful, this oil happens to be pure enough to be eaten. I lavenderblueberrycheesecakebarshave heard tale of lavender being a flavor as well as a scent. I wanted to try, and cheesecake can be a gentle delivery medium for a first taste of something long considered just a perfume plant. After it’s been pulsed in, take a deep breath and pour it all over the cake mix. In a small sauce pan, heat frozen blueberries until smashable and drizzle they and their liquids onto the cheesy topping. Swirl with abandon. Bake at 300° for 60 minutes or until a butter knife comes out the middle relatively clean. Cool very completely (everything has to settle in together) and cut into squares. I cannot in good legal conscience guarantee that you will be delighted, but, well, you’ll probably be delighted. 5 spoons!

Naked Stew

In my pantry today:

  • 1 can chicken breast
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 can white potatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 c small cauliflower florets
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp vegetable ghee
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, minced into near-paste
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced into near-paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp red hot chiil powder
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • pinch asafoetida

nakedsoupThe hardest thing to do here was mince the garlic and onion into a near paste-like consistency, but even that was more patience than skill, and to be perfectly honest opening all the cans might’ve actually been more difficult. Either way, this stove-top stew is an easy way to wile away a winter witching hour.

Start your minced garlic and onion in a pan on ML that already hosts your melted ghee/oil. Turn the temperature almost up to M and let it sit, stirred, for a few minutes while you open all those cans and drain/rinse everything in them. Go back to the stove and sprinkle in the asafoetida, turmeric and half of your coriander. Mix well and add chicken. Mix again until all the chunks are broken up and everything is covered in the pan contents; add cauliflower and let simmer on ML for just a minute or two, then add cream of chicken soup. Mix, begin slowly adding broth as you stir in each subsequent can of stuff. Add the rest of your coriander and the red hot chili powder and keep on stirring while you slowly increase the heat to M/M-H until everything comes to a slow boil. At this point, reduce heat to L, cover and let cook until the cauliflower is tender. The only think keeping this from being more than a 4 spoon dish is that I would prefer fresh over canned anything if given my druthers.

Lasagna, ft. Sausage, Kale and Cheese Trifecta

In my pantry today:

  • The butt-ends of two boxes of lasagna noodles
  • 1 freezer bag crock pot marinara (approx 3 c)
  • 1 freezer bag cooked ground Italian sausage (approx 3/4 c)
  • 3 medium leaves kale
  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 c asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 c mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1 dash salt

lasagnaThaw then marry your marinara and sausage in a medium-sized pot on the stove. Also start a large, oiled pot of water with an accompanying dash of salt. When your water begins to show signs of a boil, hold each leaf of kale by its stem and dip into the water for a count of 12. Wrap them in a clean towel and gently squeeze out all the water. Move them to the cutting board, remove stems and mince; set aside. Your pasta can go in now and cook until it’s a little too al dente to be al dente, then drain it and rinse with cold water until everything is chilled to room temperature.

Shred asiago cheese, set aside with mozzarella. Mix egg with ricotta cheese and dash salt. Rub a little olive oil inside a 6×6″ baking pan and begin layering by laying the most whole of your noodles along the bottom of the pan. Pour on 1/4 your sauce, scatter in half your kale bits, sprinkle 1/3 the asiago on, drop in dollops of ricotta and spread gently across the breadth of the pan, then add as complete a layer as you can with the noodle amputations and do this all again. Add a final layer of noodles, then add the rest of your sauce and top with the rest of your asiago and all of your mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake foil-covered pan in 350° oven for 45m, then take foil off and cook another 10-20m until optimum browning has occurred. Though next time I’d use more kale and sausage, this was still pretty good and worth all 4 spoons!

 

Broccoli Casserole-ish (or, “Well, There’s Only Everything Good in It”)

  • 3 c broccoli florets
  • 1/3 c yellow onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 10 oz  can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c panko bread crumbs
  • dash of salt

I’m going to have to tell you all something.

I’m not proud, and hope to use this public forum to ensure I bear the full responsibility for having held such a simple secret for so long.

…I’ve never made a broccoli casserole.

There. You got it out of me. Proud?

broccasseroleishAnyway, please suffer through this, my first time, as an experiment in both flavor and safety. Mince the garlic and onion and saute on ML in butter until onions become translucent. While that’s going on, cut florets to a medium-small proportion, set aside. Beat the egg into the can of cream of mushroom soup. Melt the cream cheese into the butter/onions/garlic, remove from heat and fold everything together. In large bowl, combine the contents of that pan and the egg-soup mixture. Shake in a smidge of salt and mix well. Toss your florets with this goop, put in a baking pan then top with cheddar cheese and panko. Bake in a 350° oven for 20-30m. What comes out will work well either as a stand-alone side or as a slightly saucy accessory to penne pasta; I didn’t know exactly what to expect, and I will strive in the future to perfect this concoction’s consistency. As it stands, though, this was really, really tasty and earns 4 spoons.