Friday, November 16, 2012

Chicken Pizza

Easy. It's Friday, I found myself wandering the aisles of the big blue box store, you know the one. I felt rather zombie-like, had a sinus headache all day and was picking up more cold meds, plus looking for something for dinner. This is what I came up with. One could make it even easier by purchasing a deli chicken, or a bag of frozen, cooked chicken strips.
Purchased, thin, whole wheat crusts, topped with some jarred 4 cheese rosa sauce, shredded asiago/parmesan/romano cheese, sliced chicken breasts (zapped in the microwave with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil), julienned smoked ham (leftover sandwich meat), sliced green onion.
I baked it in a hot oven (430F, convection). When finished, I drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled with crushed red pepper flakes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today's Breakfast: Prairie Gold Pancakes

I love Wheat Montana Flour. Really. No, they don't pay me to say that, I wish....
1 cup Prairie Gold Whole Wheat Flour
1 tablespoon milled flax seed
1 heaping tablespoon wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (I didn't have any, so used regular milk and added a bit of apple cider vinegar and let it sit a bit.)
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs
Combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients, then mix together with the dry. As in all pancake recipes, do not over mix, let there be lumps!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fried Chicken

Wanting to do something with the gravy leftover from breakfast, I thought fried chicken would be great!
I picked up an inexpensive chicken, under $4.
Then, I put together a marinade: milk, apple cider vinegar, paprika, thyme, garlic powder, bay leaf, ancho chili powder, pepper. I cut up the chicken, reserving the back and other trimmings for a stock. The chicken pieces marinated in the milk mixture for several hours.
After draining the chicken, I dredged it in seasoned flour, using some of the same seasonings used in the marinade.
After dredging the chicken, I put them in a deep cast iron chicken fryer. It's similar to a regular cast iron pan, but deeper.
I forgot to look at the clock, but I set aside about an hour for the process. I put the pieces on a rack on top of rimmed baking sheet and put the chicken in the oven to stay warm while I finished off the rest of the meal.

Today's Breakfast: Biscuits & Gravy

These are easy to make. I used a half pound of breakfast sausage, adding a little bit of vegetable oil to the pan when browning the sausage.
I use bay leaves, sage, thyme, and ancho chili powder to season, along with lots of black pepper and salt to taste.
Add about a half cup of flour to the browned sausage, let it coat the sausage and cook for just a little bit.
Oh yes, I did. One can use just milk, or evaporated milk, or chicken stock. I used half-n-half, and some milk.
Add the seasonings, let it simmer.
Now, for the biscuits. I simply use the recipe on the back of the baking powder can with a few adaptations: 2 cups flour (I used 1 cup white, 1 cup whole wheat), 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder, about a half tsp. salt, 1 stick butter (it calls for 1/3 cup shortening), 3/4 cup milk (I used the rest of the half-n-half, and some milk, and used more, almost a cup).
Washing the grater is so much easier than washing a food processor. This works every time. Simply grate cold butter into the flour, then toss to coat.
Add the milk, stir briefly. I use an ice cream scoop to form the biscuits. Again, avoiding the mess of rolling the biscuits out on the counter. I tend to get flour everywhere.
Bake in a hot oven, 425F, for about 15 minutes.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fruit Cake 2012

I have adapted a recipe from James Beard's American Cookery. The base is poundcake:
2 cups butter
1 1/3 cup white sugar (reserve the 1/3 cup for the egg whites)
2/3 cups brown sugar
10 large eggs, separated
1 generous teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 cup chopped walnuts
About 8 cups of dried fruit, chopped,
1 cup flour (to mix with the fruit and nut mixture, stirred into the batter at the end.)
I used a variety of dried fruit: dates, apricots, candied lemon and orange peel, cranberries, cherries, currants, and a some golden raisins. I also added some dried zest. The dried fruit was soaked in Wild Turkey Honey for a week or two. I used a processor to dice the fruit into smaller bits.
Cream the butter, then add sugar.
Separate the eggs, then add the yolks to the butter and sugar mixture. Continue to beat.
Add the eggs slowly. Add vanilla.
The mixture should be light, like sweetened whipped cream.
Sift the dry ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the egg, butter, and sugar mixture. Use a gentle hand to fold in.
Whip the egg whites, adding the reserved 1/3 cup sugar.
Put some of the beaten whites into the batter to lighten it up, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Add the remaining cup of flour to the fruit and nut mixture, then add it to the batter.
I use ice cream scoops to put the batter into the pans. 3 scoops for the loaves, and one mini-scoop for the mini-muffin size. They baked at about 325, mini-muffins took about 25 minutes, the loaves closer to an hour.
Brush the cakes with rum when they come out of the oven.
After bathing all the cakes in rum, I put them into plastic bags and they will age in the fridge. I will take them out periodically to brush with more rum.
This recipe made 24 mini-muffins, and 10 small loaves. They will undergo a soaking in a sweet syrup flavored with Gran Marnier before gifting.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Baked Pears

This is pretty easy. Halve pears, then scoop out the core with a melon scoop. Cut a bit off the bottom of each half so they sit in the baking dish. I put some lemon juice on the cut edges of the pear to keep them from turning brown.
Fill the pears with a mixture of dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, and blue cheese. I used some cheddar/blue slices that I had on hand. I poured some marsala, water, and apple jelly into the baking dish. I baked them until the pears were tender and the cheese was melted.
I served them on lettuce, with a dressing made from the cooking liquid, olive oil, some aged balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Surf-n-Turf: Porterhouse & Shrimp

This was Friday night date night dinner. I served the steak and shrimp with a cheese fondue sauce, peas, and mashed potatoes with bacon and cheddar.
My brother sent a gift of four porterhouse steaks. We figured one would do for a meal.
I picked up some very large shrimp at the store. They were cleaned and the shells were split for easy removal. I marinated them in olive oil, paprika, ancho chili powder, chili powder, and pepper
It was a beautiful evening, so we grilled. Can't believe it's November!
The steak was started over the coals, then after searing on both sides, it was moved to the other side of the grill to cook over indirect heat.
The grill was covered during cooking time.
When it reached 130F, we took it off the grill, covered it with foil, and it rested on the counter inside while the shrimp cooked.
When the shrimp was done cooking, the meat was ready to slice.
Marshmallows for dessert!