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Ultimate Comfort Food: Chicken and Dumplings

22 Feb

This is something that I have always wanted to make but was for some reason intimidating, I think it’s the dumpling part that had me scared. So last week with all this crazy cold weather here in the Northeast I decided to put my fear aside and found out there was nothing to be afraid of!

Chicken:

2 1/2 lbs chicken (breasts, thighs, drumsticks)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup flour

Salt & pepper

Broth:

1 cup diced carrots

2 stalks diced celery

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup flour

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 bay leaves

5 peppercorns

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dry)

salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings:

2 cups cake flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp butter, melted

1-1 1/4 cups milk

1. Mix flour, salt and pepper and dredge the chicken in the mixture. Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place chicken in heated pan to brown it on both sides, about 5 minutes each side. Don’t overcrowd it in the pan, do it batches. Don’t worry about it cooking all the way through, it will finish cooking in the stock later. Put browned chicken aside.

A batch of chicken being browned.

A batch of chicken being browned.

2. In the same Dutch oven, add carrot, celery, onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Sprinkle vegetables with flour and toss to coat, cook another minute. Add white wine and deglaze the pan, and dissolve the flour. Add chicken stock, bay leaves and pepper corns along with the chicken. Cover the Dutch oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Saute the veggies.

Saute the veggies.

3. While the chicken cooks in the broth, make the dumplings. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add melted butter and 1 cup of the milk and stir well to mix. If dough is too sticky add more flour, if too dry add a bit of milk. It should be thick and cake-like. Do not over mix. Using a spoon scoop out 2 inch dumplings and put on a wax paper lined baking tray. Set aside.

4. Remove the chicken pieces from the broth and using a fork pull the meat off the bones and shred. Return shredded chicken to the broth. Remove bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and add dumplings. Cook, covered for 15 minutes, do not remove the lid while the dumplings are cooking, this is very important! This way they will be light and fluffy. After the 15 minutes remove lid and add heavy cream, parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bon Appetit!

The finished product...the ultimate comfort food!

The finished product…the ultimate comfort food!

 

 

Boeuf Bourguignon: A Fancy French Beef Stew

1 Feb

Here in the Northeast we are in a deep freeze and waiting on another snow storm, so what can I make that is hearty and warming? Beef stew but not just any beef stew, a French stew that is quite easy and very delicious. My husband actually said it was amazing!

Getting prepared...

Getting prepared…

Here’s what you’ll need:

Light olive oil

3 lbs Stew meat, cubed and trimmed

1 lb Carrots, peeled and cut into coins

2 Yellow onions, thinly sliced

10 Cloves of chopped garlic

1/2 Cup Cognac

2 Cups good quality dry red wine

2 1/2 to 3 Cups beef broth

2 TB tomato paste

1 tsp Dried thyme

4 TB Room temp butter

3 TB Flour

1 lb Whole, frozen pearl onions

1 lb Fresh button mushrooms, thickly sliced

3 Bay leaves

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Using paper towels, dry the beef cubes thoroughly and sprinkle with evenly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 TB olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and sear the beef cubes in a single layer, working in batches until they are browned on all sides. Do not crowd the cubes, give them room to cook properly. Set seared cubes aside.

Add carrots, onions, garlic, 1 TB kosher salt, 2 tsp black pepper to the Dutch oven and sauté for about 5 minutes until onions are browned. You may need to add more oil. Once the onions are nicely browned, add the cognac to deglaze the pan and cook another 10 minutes on medium.

Add beef back to the Dutch oven with the juices. Add wine and enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, stir occasionally. Once liquid starts to simmer slightly, cover with lid and cook on low for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until meat is tender when pierced with a fork.

Now, mix the 2 TB butter with the 3 TB of flour in a small bowl, set aside. Saute mushrooms with butter just until mushrooms become soft.

Add the mushrooms, pearl onions, and the flour/butter mixture to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves, add salt and pepper if needed.

Garnish with fresh parsley, serve with crusty French bread, egg noodles or mashed potatoes and of course a nice red wine!

The finished product with mashed potatoes! Bon Appetit!

The finished product with mashed potatoes! Bon Appetit!

Shrimp with Tomato Black Bean Sauce

14 Oct

If you are like me, you are always looking for something new for dinner that is relatively easy and good for you, well this is it! My friend and co-worker Lisa shared this with me and both my Mom and my husband loved it. Now the original recipe didn’t have garlic in it but we added it and it definitely added great flavor.

Shrimp with Black Bean Tomato Sauce

Shrimp with Black Bean Tomato Sauce

Olive Oil

1 Large Onion, chopped

1 Celery Stalk, diced

1 Large Clove Garlic

2 Tablespoons Chili powder

1 28 oz. Can Whole Plum Tomatoes

Salt

Dried Oregano

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

2 16 Oz. Cans Black Beans, drained

1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley

2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

1 Pound Peeled, Deveined Large Shrimp

In a 12″ skillet over high heat, in 2 tablespoons olive oil, cook onion, garlic and celery until tender and lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.  Add chili powder, cook 1 minute.

Add tomatoes with the liquid, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes; heat to boiling, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Stir in black beans, chopped parsley and vinegar; heat through.

Meanwhile, in 10″ skillet over high heat, in 2 tablespoons hot olive oil, stir-fry shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 crushed red pepper flakes until shrimp turn pink and are tender.

Now, I served this over a bed of rice, I like a starch to make the meal complete and I also tried this with some leftover chicken and it was delicious too.

To serve, spoon tomato black bean sauce over a bed of rice and top with shrimp. Makes enough for about 6 people.  Enjoy!

Steak and Potatoes-The Way to a Man’s Heart

3 Mar

First I would like to apologize for the pause in posts, 2 sinus infections in a row and computer problems kept me from blogging but I’m back. My computer and my sinuses are healthy. So I am going to back track a bit to Valentine’s Day. My husband I usually go out but this year we decided to stay in and I cooked.  John (my husband) is a typical man, he loves meat and potatoes. The menu for our meal was simple: filet mignon, smashed fried fingerling potatoes and portobello mushrooms with spinach and cheese-all of which are easy and delicious.

Dinner Prerp

Preparing for Valentine's Dinner

For this particular post I do not have tried and true recipes, this meal was made from asking questions and trial and error. I’m going to write this the way I cooked it because timing is always an issue when you want the foods for the meal to be ready at the same time. One important thing you will need for this is a cast iron skillet or a skillet that can go into the oven, this is for the filets. So, here goes… 

Filet Mignon

I take the steaks out of the frig and put in a shallow dish; sprinkle with salt and pepper, Adobo seasoning  and some Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.  I let the steaks set out in this marinade for about 30 minutes while I get the other foods going. Now, I know alot of people who think that anything more than salt and pepper on a filet is terrorizing it and my husband was one of those people until he tasted these. 

Fingerling Potatoes

I used a bag of  white fingerling potatoes, toss them lightly in olive oil and roast for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven on a cookie sheet. Once they are roasted you will need to smash them slightly with a wooden spatula-just enough so that the skin cracks but you don’t want them to fall apart. 

Sherry Vinaigrette

Make this ahead of time for the portobello mushrooms with spinach and cheese. This recipe is from Bobby Flay, as is the portobello mushroom idea but I have changed it quite drastically. His recipe doesn’t cook the spinach and he stacks them which I just thought was too much. 

1 small shallot finely chopped ( I LOVE shallots)

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk together the shallot, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified.    

Portobello Mushrooms

Put a light coat of olive oil on the mushrooms and put bottom down on a jelly roll pan and put in a 400 degree oven, turn over after about 5 minutes. Keep your eye on them so they don’t get overdone. They should cook for a total of about 10 minutes-5 minutes each side. 

Fingerling Potatoes

Put vegetable oil in a large pan to fill it to about 1/2 way and heat the oil to 350 degrees ( I didn’t measure the temperature but I did look it up on-line to see what it should be).  Once the oil is hot enough add the smashed potatoes and fry for about 4 to 5 minutes and turn to fry the other side for another 4 to 5 minutes until nicely browned. When done drain on paper towels then put in a large bowl and toss with sea salt and chopped chives.

Filet Mignon

Heat up a skillet on high heat with a bit of vegetable oil spread evenly on the bottom, I actually pour a bit into the skillet and use a paper towel to spread it around and take up the excess. Once the pan is nice and hot put the steaks in and sear each side for about 3 minutes. While they are searing turn the oven to 400 degrees to preheat. Once the filets are nicely seared, turn off the heat and put the skillet with the filets in the oven. For rare I cooked them about 6 minutes and for medium about 9 minutes but it will really depend on the size of the steaks and your oven.

While the filets are in the oven I put a bit of olive oil in a small saute pan and add about a 1/2 bag of baby spinach and cook until just wilted. Then put a portobello mushroom on each plate, top with wilted spinach, whisk the vinaigrette and pour over the spinach then top with grated manchego cheese.

At this point the filets should be done so you can plate them along with the potatoes and enjoy a really great satisfying meal!  I would have a picture of this complete meal but before I could remember to get the camera it was all gone…

Chili So Chili It’s Hot!

17 Jan

My husband loves chili and loves sausage and a while ago we had chili with sausage at a friend’s house but I never got the recipe so I decided to find one and I did-Dragons Breath Chili by Guy Fieri-it is delicious! When I first started to read the recipe I was bit overwhelmed by all the ingredients but then when I really read it, it wasn’t so bad, lots of spices and several different kinds of chiles that add great flavor.  The recipe calls for roasting and peeling the chiles which wasn’t so bad either, I googled it and it is very simple and doesn’t take much time-if I can do it so can you! 

Dragons Breath Chili

Dragons Breath Chili with Rice...so nice!

2 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Bacon Grease or oil
2 Red Bell Peppers-diced, about 2 Cups
2 Jalapenos-minced, about 2 Tablespoons
3 Anaheim Chiles-roasted, peeled, chopped
3 Poblano Chiles, roasted, peeled, chopped
2 Yellow Onions-diced, about 2 Cups
1 Head Garlic-minced, about 1/4 Cup
1 lb Boneless Chuck-trimmed and cut into 1/4″ cubes
2 lbs Ground Beef
1 lb Bulk Italian Sausage
2 tsps Granulated Onion
2 tsps Granulated Garlic
3 Tblsps Chili Powder
2 tsps Hot Paprika
2 tsps Ground Cumin
2 tsps Coriander
2 tsps Cayenne Pepper
2 tsps Kosher Salt
2 tsps Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Cups Tomato Sauce
1 Cup Tomato Paste
12 Ounces Lager Beer
1 Cup Chicken Stock
2-15.5 Oz Cans Pinto Beans with the liquid
2-15.5 Oz Cans Kidney Beans with the liquid
1 Bunch Green Onions-thinly sliced
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
 In a large stock pot over high heat, add butter and bacon grease. (I used oil not bacon grease, I try to be somewhat healthy.) Add bell pepper, jalapeno, chiles and onion and cook until carmelized, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and saute a minute longer. Add chuck and brown. Add ground beef and sausage to brown and stir gently, trying not to break up the ground beef too much. Cook the meat about 7 to 10 minutes until cooked through. Now this is where I would do things differently, once the peppers, chiles and garlic were cooked I would take them out of the pot and put aside, then brown the meats, drain the fat and then put the chile mixture back in with the meat otherwise it is very greasy. 
Once the meat is cooked and the chile mixture is in with it, add the granulated onion, granulated garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute.  Add in tomato sauce and paste and stir for 2 minutes.  Stir in beer, chicken stock and beans, lower heat and simmer for 2 hours.
I like to serve my chili with rice and of course sprinkle with shredded cheese and green onions. The sausage is a very tasty addition and made my husband very happy…like Mom always says “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!”
 
 
 

No Bologna Bolognese!

1 Jan

Tis the season for dinner parties! Friends and family gathering to eat a great meal, drink some wine and maybe play a game or two. What to serve can be a difficult decision because you want to make something that everyone will love that isn’t too complicated and for me, a bolognese is the perfect choice. The bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy, dates back to at least the 5th century and according to Wikipedia a true bolognese contains the following ingredients: beef, pancetta, carrots, onions, celery, tomato paste, red wine and milk.  Of course through the years it has changed to include different additions of meat but the basic ingredients remain the same.  The recipe that I am about to share with you includes sausage which I think adds lots of flavor. The  greatest compliment that I received about this meal was from my friend Paul. Paul is not a foodie and when I served this to him and his wife not only did he eat all of it but had seconds-success…he said it was delicious and his wife Shelly asked for the recipe!

Bolognese

Beautiful Bolognese

BOLOGNESE SAUCE
5 Tblsp Butter
7 Tblsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion-finely chopped
2 Stalks Celery-finely chopped
1 Large Carrot-finely chopped
2 Large Cloves Garlic-minced
1 1/2 lbs Chopped Meat
 1 1/2 lbs Sausage-casing removed
1/2 lb Pancetta-chopped
1 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
1 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
3/4 Cup Tomato Paste
Parmesan Cheese
 
Melt the butter and oil in a large pan add onion, celery, carrot and garlic-cook until soft but not browned.  Add the meats ( I use the package of sausage that has both sweet and hot), increase the heat a bit and cook until all the meat is browned.  Drain most of the fat and stir in milk, wine and tomato paste-reduce heat.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer until thickened, about 1 hour.  Serve with a nice fettucine noodle and parmesan cheese. Buon Appetito!

California Fish Stew…Better than it Sounds

17 Oct

Fall is upon us which makes me think of warm, rich comfort foods. The problem with those foods is that they are also rich in fat and calories, so here is a dish that will satisfy your craving for that yummy comfort food without all those extra calories.

It is from the Williams-Sonoma kitchen library book Healthy Cooking.  I feel like the name just doesn’t do it justice but I haven’t been able to come up with anything else, feel free to give me some suggestions.  This recipe is good for those people who are on a gluten-free diet and also for people like myself. I just recently found out after years of stomach problems that I have an intolerance for fiber. Crazy as that may sound it is true and it can definitely make eating healthy meals a challenge but this recipe fits the bill.

 
 

California Fish Stew

1/2 lb scallops

1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 lb skinless, boneless fish fillets such as cod or snapper

2 Tbls olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup water

2 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes 

1 tsp dried oregano or thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley, flat leaf 

Cut all the fish and shellfish into 3/4″ to 1″ pieces.  Check for any bones and discard. Place seafood in a bowl and set aside. 

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the oil. When hot, add the garlic and saute, stirring for about 30 seconds. Add half the fish and shellfish and then all of the wine, water, tomatoes, oregano or thyme, salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a gentle boil, lower the heat and boil gently for 1 minute. Stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add the remaining fish and shellfish and cook, stirring gently, just until all the pieces are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and serve right away.

I like to serve it with linguine and a salad, of course to be truly low cal it should be without the pasta. It is also good with rice and a great loaf of crispy bread is good too. Either way,  if you like seafood you will love this dish!

 

 

Summertime, The 4th of July…Hotdogs!

5 Jul

Hello Everyone! I apologize for being “off-air” for the last few weeks. I was fighting a sinus infection for more than a month and having work done on my kitchen but now my kitchen and my sinuses are back in working order.

Hotdogs

Hotdogs with our favorite toppings!

To me, the official start of summer is not Memorial Day but the 4th of July and with that, it is the season of eating hotdogs.  I am a pretty healthy eater but there is something about a hotdog that I cannot resist. And no, no fat-free turkey or chicken hotdogs, I am talking real beef and/or pork hotdogs cooked on the grill until the skin cracks.

Here are a few hotdog facts that are kinda crazy from the National Hotdog and Sausage Council:

In 2010 consumers spent more than $1.6 billion on hotdogs in the United States.

On the 4th of July Americans eat more than 150 million hotdogs!

L.A. consumes more hotdogs than other city in the U.S. (funny stat considering how it’s supposed to be such healthy city of thin people)

From Memorial Day through Labor Day 818 hotdogs are consumed every second-Wow!

The winner of the Nathans World Championship Hotdog Eating Contest held yesterday, July 4th is Joey Chestnut-he ate 62 hotdogs with buns in 10 minutes-this is his fifth year winning.

And the first ever Nathans Womens Hotdog Eating Champion is Sonya Thomas-she ate 40 hotdogs with buns.

I won’t be doing that anytime soon. I can eat about 2 tops and speaking of toppings my favorite is sauerkraut! The options are endless with chili, cheese, coleslaw, onions, relish, ketchup, mustard and so on. There are restaurants devoted to hotdogs and of course every major city has carts that sell the “dirty water dogs”  and now they are popping up in small towns all over the U.S.  My favorite hotdog joint is on St.Simons Island in Georgia, Hotdog Alley.  It is the most charming, friendly little place tucked away about a block from the Village: great hotdogs, delicious sweet tea and always with a smile.  The other is in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina-The Trolly Stop.  Again, it is a tiny little place with a menu of dogs with lots of different toppings and now they have hamburgers and other items on the menu but you really need to have the hotdog. www.trollystophotdogs.com

So welcome to summer and enjoy a hotdog!

Mexican Mac & Cheese – Chapter 2

23 May

For the second chapter on macaroni and cheese I am writing about a new twist on an old favorite, Mexican mac & cheese! A coworker told me about a recipe called Queso Chicken Pasta on the blog www.mangeratrois.net, I checked it out and decided to change a few things like adding ground beef instead of chicken (the chicken seemed a bit boring) and few other slight adjustments and voila! a hearty, tasty mac & cheese that is definitely a meal.  Check it out for yourself and I am sure it will delight you…

1 lb Penne pasta

1 lb ground beef

2 Tbls olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

2 Tbls flour

2 2/3 cups milk

2 tsp salt

8 ounces cream cheese

12 ounces shredded cheese (Cheddar, Mexican blend, Colby, Jack or mixture of any) I have found that I like to use 8 ounces of Colby or Jack to 4 ounces of Cheddar, it makes it creamier. 

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained

Heat oven to 350 degrees and  thinly coat a large casserole dish with oil-I like to use olive oil but vegetable will work just as well.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta 2 minutes less than directed. Drain well and place in the casserole dish.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat and brown the ground beef, until cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes and drain well. Add the browned ground beef to the pasta.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet adding the onion and garlic.  Cook until the onion becomes soft, about 3 minutes.  Add cumin, coriander and salt.  Cook until spices become fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. (Add a touch more olive oil it seems to dry.)  Gradually add milk and stir until smooth.  Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until thickened.  Turn heat down to low heat and add cream cheese and 8 ounces of shredded cheese, stirring until melted.  Stir in Ro-Tel tomatoes.

Add the cheese mixture to the pasta and ground beef and stir well until fully incorporated.  Top with remaining shredded cheese and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.  Let stand for 5 minutes (if you can) and then ENJOY!

Hotdog Casserole, it’s a real weiner!

11 Apr

I have lots of great memories from my childhood that revolve around food which I find to be very common.  There is one memory that I love and causes at least three of my seven siblings to gag-Hotdog Casserole! I hadn’t thought of or eaten it in many years until my husband reminded me about it when I told him I was writing a food blog.  It is one of those recipes that I thought was unique to our family and when I mention it, people often look at me in disbelief.  My brother John actually wrote a paper about it in high school and got an A.  Google it, there are many recipes out there which I was absolutely shocked to see.  My husband was very skeptical that it could taste good but I assured him that with several of his favorite foods in it; potatoes, onions, hotdogs and tomato soup that he would love it.

Here’s how it goes:

1 package of your favorite dogs

2 cans tomato soup (I like Campbell’s, and you don’t need to dilute it)

1 large onion-thinly sliced

5-6 medium eastern potatoes-thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread a thin layer of tomato soup on the bottom of a casserole dish. Then layer potatoes, onions and hotdogs spread with tomato soup and continue to layer, it should make 3 layers. For the top I put a layer of potatoes with a thin layer of soup on the top.  Put the lid on and bake for 40 minutes then remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes.  It will be a mass of bubbly goodness! Keep in mind to slice the potatoes nice and thin so they cook completely.

Well, my skeptical husband is now a convert, he loved it! The flavor of the onion that mixes with the tomato soup and is soaked up by the potatoes and hot dogs is just delicious!  I believe it will now be added to our regular rotation of meals along with spaghetti and meatballs and pot roast, his other favorites.  If you make it, please let me know what you think! Enjoy!

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