Thursday, September 23, 2010
Occasionally I’m at the grocery store and I see one of those frozen packages of ravioli or tortellini and I think “that would make a quick and easy meal”. Then I mix it with regular ol’ pasta sauce and it’s eh, okay. But alas! I have found something you can do with that boring old bag of frozen tortellini sitting at the back of your freezer! Get together these: Olive oil 4 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2” pieces (why don’t they just say “bite sized pieces”?) 3 bell peppers, whatever colors you like, chopped up however thick you like Because it is from the Real Simple magazine, you will want to add salt & pepper, of course 6 cloves of garlic, because no matter what the recipe calls for, I always up the amount of garlic, minced ¼ t red pepper flakes (or I would do a couple of shakes rather than try to measure it) 3 cups vegetable broth. I have those little boullion cubes, and I heat them up w/ 3 cups of water to make the broth. And if you have an open container of free range chicken broth in the fridge, you might as well use it up before it goes bad. I think you basically just want to use something w/ more flavor than water here. 1 pound package of frozen cheese tortellini ½ c fresh basil (the original recipe called for parsley, so use that if it sounds better to you. It just seems to me that basil+pasta=yum. ½ c grated asiago cheese, or however much you want. Take out a large skillet. I use a wok, that was sold as a wok because it has that shape, but really it’s just a large pan. Whatever, I use it for almost everything. I bought it at Sunrise Asian Grocery in Eugene, Oregon. That place is awesome, it used to be the post office. Heat the oil in the pan over med-hi heat. Add the eggplant, bell peppers, salt & pepper. Stir occasionally, the vegetables should begin to soften, around 8 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the broth & tortellini. Cover & simmer over medium heat, stir it occasionally, about 12-15 minutes. Add the basil (or parsley) and ½ of the asiago. Stir it up well, then dish it into bowls & sprinkle with more asiago. This is an easy one pot meal, which means not much clean up! Goes good w/ homemade bread or a good crusty artisan bread.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
5-6 chicken legs
3 small crisp apples, like Braeburn
4-5 leeks, according to the original recipe, “halved crosswise and lengthwise”. In other words, quartered, I would think.
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
Hey, hey! Salt & pepper, and my addition- garlic salt in addition to, or instead of regular salt.
Okay, this is going to seem strange at first. But follow the directions, and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
Preheat the oven to 400. Take out a large baking sheet with rims, or edges, or something to keep stuff from sliding off. The original recipe called for the apples to be “quartered”. But I disagreed, so I cut the apples in half, and then each half into thirds. In other words, or in another word, the apples should be sixthed rather than quartered. Or would it be sexed? No, we don’t want to go there. Sixthed. I may have just coined a new term because Word is giving it the old squiggly red underline. Also, it is good to have an apple corer for this. Apple corer is one of the top 10 items everyone should have in their kitchen. #1 being a large fork. I should make a blog of my top 10 necessary kitchen items. But that’s in the future, and right now, you are trying to make this damn recipe and the oven is preheating and you didn’t come here to read a novel, so back to the recipe….
Once your 3 apples are sixthed into 18 pieces, put them on the baking sheet with the chicken legs, leeks, rosemary and spices. Oh, did you cut off the tops of the leeks? You should have. Remove the tops if you forgot that part.
If you have one of those olive oil dispensers that you pump and spray with, spray a bunch of oil all over your dish. But you probably don’t have one, because I only just recently found out they existed, and then I had to search for awhile to find one. So, slowly pour a little oil over the food and carefully toss it around until it all seems coated. Your hands will become quite oily and you’ll want to wash them, with soap. Do not, by any means use Pam or any other kind of artificial cooking spray. Because I said so.
Put the baking sheet in the oven and set the timer for about 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn the chicken to the other side. Drool over the dinner you’re about to enjoy. Don’t drool into the pan, especially if you’re sharing the meal with anyone. Put the dish back in the oven and set the timer for 20-25 more minutes. When the timer goes off, check the fattest leg to make sure it’s done, and if it is, take it out of the oven, turn the oven off and let it cool for at least 5 minutes.
This dish should feed 3 people, but if you have 3 people eating it, you might use 6 legs instead of 5 to avoid fist fights. Serve with bread and wine, if you want to. You will be surprised at how good it is. I was.
Friday, September 10, 2010
*2 cups dry brown rice w/ 5 cups water, if using my rice cooker
*1 onion, chopped
*3-4 cloves garlic
*several chopped tomatoes from the farmer’s market or your garden, if it’s July or August in Iowa, if not, a large can of diced tomatoes should do the trick.
*1 lb. eggplant. This would be about 3 normal sized eggplants, but since they come in such a variety of sizes, it’s good to weigh them. Of course, you can have more or less, I don’t think it will alter the recipe too much. Cut them into 1/2” pieces, but please, don’t get out the ruler.
*1-2 jalapeno peppers, or something to make it spicy
*1 ½ or maybe 2 ½ T curry powder. If you live, or visit, Iowa City, or you want to support a spice guru online, check out Cocina del Mundo’s Authentic Curry Spice.
(Hey, wait a minute! Real Simple just went beyond salt & pepper! Hooray!)
Oh, wait… the next thing on the list is:
*salt & black pepper
*And my spice additions: garlic salt, cayenne (to taste)
*1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed
*¼ c plain yogurt
Cook the rice.
Meanwhile, sautee the onion & garlic. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, spices and cook, stirring occasionally, the original recipe says “until fragrant”, but I cooked it longer than that. Add 1-2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the eggplant is tender, 12-15 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and cook about 3 min. more. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil.
Serve over the rice with a dollop of yogurt.
I renamed this recipe, because it has an Indian flavor, but it reminded me of the goulash I make, but with rice instead of macaroni noodles, Indian spices instead of chili spices, chickpeas instead of kidney beans, eggplants instead of whatever veggies/meat/tempeh go in goulash, and yogurt instead of sour cream. See the connection?
Thursday, September 2, 2010
This is a good thing to make when the farmer’s market is full of bok choy and you don’t know what to do with it all.
4 chicken breasts from the local organic farm
Lots of bok choy, quartered lengthwise
¼ c bragg
¼ c bbq sauce
6-8 green onions, thinly sliced
I cooked the basmati rice in the rice cooker, 1 ½ c dry, and I had more than enough. Next time I would probably use 1 cup, and I didn’t write down how much water I used. Oops.
I cooked the chicken in water and flavored it with salt & pepper until browned on the outside. When it was cool enough to handle, I cut it up into bite-sized chunks to add to the meal. In doing this, I cut off all of the salt & pepper flavor. So, next time I would remove the skin before seasoning and browning the chicken. You might be saying “well, duh!” but I bet you’ve made dumb cooking mistakes in the past, too, right? So, thanks to me, you just avoided making a dumb mistake (or maybe you went to the store and bought boneless, skinless chicken breasts like the original recipe called for, in which case, you’re cheating!) Now, the chicken pan is sitting there with chicken flavor in it, and you can add the bok choy and ¼ cup water to the pan. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the bragg, bbq sauce and green onions in a bowl. Add to the pan and bring it to a boil. Then add the cut up chicken pieces and toss until heated through. Serve on the rice.
But wait! It could be better.
We ate this and it seemed strange to mix BBQ sauce with rice. Next time I want to make this recipe with apricot preserves and ginger instead of BBQ sauce. It also seems like it could use more spice, it was kind of bland. Which reminds, me: how come all of these magazine recipes call for the following spices:
Seriously, that’s it! I admit, I own just about every damn spice and spice combination you can imagine, but I know I’m not the only one. I’ve been to other people’s kitchens and snooped in their spice racks. They, too, own more than SALT & PEPPER! Are the Real Simple readers so uncreative that they can’t go beyond salt & pepper when making a home cooked meal?!? There, I’ve said it. I feel better.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
2 c brown rice dry, with 5 c water in rice cooker
1 box quorn chickenless chicken nuggets (frozen)
½ c apricot preserves
2 T cider vinegar
2 T bragg (amino acids, healthier than soy sauce)
2 t grated fresh ginger (but how can you measure fresh ginger? Just eye it)
6 stalks celery, thinly sliced
25 snow peas, ends removed
4 cloves garlic, sliced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
Cook the rice however you usually cook rice. The notes above work for my rice cooker, but I assume, like all kitchen appliances, that they all have their own quirks, so you can use the notes above if you are cooking the rice at my house.
Meanwhile, bake the chickenless nuggets, 10 minutes on each side. If you are using Quorn, there will be 14 nuggets. There always are. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat chickenless nuggets. They just seem a bit healthier, or maybe just less cruel than supporting the companies that inhumanely raise the chickens whose chicken parts end up in other brands of frozen chicken nuggets. And yes, this section of the meal does call for some processed food, but that’s what makes this meal easy and achievable on a weeknight, rather than spending a bunch of time cutting up the meat from a local free-range organic chicken, making homemade bread crumbs, and creating your own chicken nuggets. I have done that, by the way, and believe me, when you go to that much work you end up creating something very delicious that you don’t want to taint with rice and cider vinegar and soy sauce. But I digress…..
In a bowl, whisk together the apricot preserves, bragg, vinegar and ginger. This is fun when you have a cool colorful whisk with curly cue ends on it, like I’ve got. Also, I have been cooking a lot lately with apricot preserves. The Quorn chickenless chicken nuggets, for example, have a recipe for a dipping sauce on the back, which is ½ apricot preserves, ½ bbq sauce (I’ve been using Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Spicy lately) and some fresh ginger. I’ll use ginger powder if I’m out of fresh ginger. It makes a great sauce.
Anyway, Heat the oil in a large skillet over med-hi heat. Add the celery & carrots and stir it up. After a couple of minutes, add the snow peas, jalapeno, green onions and garlic.
Note- I got some snow peas from the farmer’s market and rinsed them and tossed them in the dish, and then I learned that you’re supposed to remove the ends. So, I learned something, and if you didn’t know you were supposed to do that either, than you just learned something too!
Another note- I always put a non-latex glove on my left hand when I cut up jalapenos. Because I hold the peppers with my left hand while holding the knife with my right hand. Because the first time I cut jalapenos I didn’t wear a glove and I felt a constant flame coming out of my palm for the rest of the evening, no matter how many times I washed my hand. It was an invisible flame, and I couldn’t light a candle with it, but it was there, I’m telling you.
When the garlic starts to brown (you might need to turn the heat up), add the cooked chickenless nugs, the sauce, and toss it all together well. You don’t want to add the nugs too soon or the breading layer will come off of them.
Now, your choice- you can serve it scooped on top of the rice, or you can dump the rice into the skillet and mix it all up.
Eat it, like it, and then comment on by blog how much you liked it.