Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Roast Chicken in a Dutch Oven

The Dutch Oven is one of my favorite pieces to cook with in my kitchen.  It is the perfect pot for soups, stews, braising, or roasting meats.  I also use it for tons of dishes that need to start on the stovetop and then finish cooking in the oven.  This roast chicken is a terrific example of that.  I give the onions a quick sauté before adding the rest of the ingredients and moving everything to the oven to finish roasting.  It turns out a beautifully roasted chicken with tender and moist vegetables creating a one-pot dinner with very little hands-on time.

1 roasting chicken
2 large onions, thickly sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 T olive oil
1 cup water
1 T butter
1-2 tsp. rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat the oil over medium and add the sliced onions and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 8-10 minutes and then add carrots and potatoes.  Stir vegetables around to coat in oil and then spread them to the outside edges.  Place the chicken in the middle of the pot and add one cup of water.  (The water will help cook the vegetables and keep your chicken moist.)  Season the chicken and vegetables with salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Add a tablespoon of butter to the top of the chicken and then place the entire dutch oven (without the lid) in a preheat 375 degree oven for about an hour and a half (more or less depending on the size of your chicken.  You should start checking the internal temp. after an hour.  Just place the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone.)  Your chicken is ready when the internal temperature reaches between 165-175 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Majedra - Lentils and Rice

Majedra is a Middle Eastern peasant dish that is quite hearty and delicious.  It is perfect for vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians because the lentils are so nutrient rich and satisfying.  The onions are vital to this dish and give it additional flavor from being caramelized in olive oil. Majedra is eaten with a side of plain yogurt and often served with a bright salad with a tangy olive oil and lemon juice dressing.  It is delicious and you should definitely give it a try.

Majedra - Lentils and Rice
1 cups lentils
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cups rice
2 large onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil

Boil lentils in 2 cups water for 20 minutes or until cooked through.  Wash rice and add to lentils.  Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and 2 cups water.  Stir and bring up to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook lentils and rice for 15-20 minutes until rice is tender and water has been absorbed.  In a large pot add oil and onions.  Season with additional salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until onions wilt and caramelize, about 40 minutes.  You want to make sure the onions do not have any crunch left to them at all and that they've turned a golden brown color.  Remove from heat.  Serve lentil mixture with a spoonful of onions on top and a side of plain yogurt.

Alternately, you can mix the onions in with the lentil mixture and serve with a generous dollop of yogurt.  You should eat the lentil/onion mixture together with a bit of yogurt in each bite.  A crisp and tangy salad is the perfect accompaniment with this dish.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Apples and Spinach

Here is a fun spin on a regular ham and cheese sandwich.  I added Granny Smith apple slices and spinach.  A smear of dijon mustard and a drizzle of honey add the perfect amount of zing to this sandwich.  Add as much cheese as you like, I went easy on the cheese for myself, but it is more decadent with 2-3 slices of cheese melting and oozing out everywhere.

Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Apples and Spinach
2 slices bread
4-5 thinly sliced ham (or turkey)
2-4 slices swiss cheese
1/2 Granny Smith apple, sliced
spinach
dijon mustard
honey
butter

Layer the first piece of bread with mustard, a drizzle of honey, cheese, ham, apple, spinach, more cheese, and top with second slice of bread.  Heat a skillet over medium heat, melt a pat of butter and place sandwich on top.  Grill until browned and toasty on first side.  Add another pat of butter to pan when flipping sandwich and grill second side until browned.  Remove from pan and serve.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Turkey Meatballs

I make a pan of these quick and healthy turkey meatballs every couple of weeks and then use them throughout the week for easy meals.  They are great simmered in sauce for spaghetti and meatballs, crumbled in an omelet, this quiche recipe, or made into meatball sandwiches.  They also freeze really well so I can keep the leftovers handy for a quick weeknight meal.

Turkey Meatballs
makes about 52 meatballs (3/4 oz. each)

1 package ground turkey (roughly 1 3/4 lbs)
2 slices bread, cubed
1/2 onion, diced
1 egg
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup milk
2 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp oregano

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, I find that my hands are the best tool for mixing the meatballs.  Use a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop to form meatballs.  Place each meatball on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

For a quick and easy spaghetti and meatball dinner I drop cooked meatballs in prepared pasta sauce and simmer for 20-30 minutes more.  These meatballs also freeze really well, so I drop the leftover cooked meatballs into a freeze bag and freeze in a single layer.  On a busy night, I can pull the frozen meatballs out and toss them directly into a pot of spaghetti sauce for a super quick weeknight meal

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oven Fries

These oven fries are a delicious addition to any weekend breakfast.  We enjoy them with scrambled eggs and fruit.  They also are stellar with dinner if we're serving fried chicken, chicken fingers, sandwiches, steak, or grilled chicken.  The kids really love these and I like them on the crispy side, but bake them however you like them.  I start checking around 20 minutes or so and spear one with a fork to test.  Make sure they are cooked through, biting into an uncooked potato is the worst.

Oven Fries
3-4 large potatoes
1 T flour
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2  fresh ground pepper
1 tsp.  smoked paprika or "season all"
olive oil - a few glugs
1-2 green onions - reserved

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash potatoes and cut into wedges.  Drop onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Add all remaining ingredients  and toss with hands.  Spread out into a single layer and bake 25-35 minutes (depends on thickness of potatoes) until potatoes are cooked through and browned on edges.  Pull out of oven and add green onion, I just take a pair of kitchen shears and cut the onions over the top of the pan and serve with ketchup.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Chicken Stew

This chicken stew recipe makes enough to serve a crowd and can be served alone or with biscuits.  It is a hearty stew and the perfect meal for a crisp fall day.  Sometimes I serve this from the pot the first day with salad and then I pour the leftovers into a baking dish for the next day.  I simply bake it in the oven for 20 minutes before topping with these biscuits and baking an additional 20-30 minutes for an easy dinner.

Chicken Stew
4 T butter
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced (boneless thighs work really well too)
1/2 cup flour
5 cups chicken stock
1 bouillon cube
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup whole milk
2 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot melt butter over medium heat.  Add onions and celery and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes.  Add cubed chicken breast and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, don't worry about chicken being cooked completely as it will continue to cook.  Add flour and cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.  Heat chicken stock (either on the stovetop or pour into a glass measuring cup and heat in the microwave), add to chicken mixture.  Stir and bring up to a simmer.  Add all remaining ingredients, cover,  and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.  (Optional)Add 1/4 cup fresh minced parsley before serving.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Kafta - Middle Eastern "Meatball"

Kafta (or Kofta) is a Middle Eastern meatball.  It is a highly seasoned ground meat mixture that can be shaped in a variety of ways including round meatballs, football shaped spheres, or molded onto skewers.  It can be eaten atop a plate of rice, with hummus, tabbouleh, plain yogurt, or tzatziki sauce.  It can also be wrapped in thin pita like a burrito or  in a traditional pita as a sandwich.  It is delicious and we always look forward to it at our house.  This time I made a very untraditional venison version that was very tasty, but feel free to use more available meats like ground beef or lamb.  I served mine with a mixture of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, parsley, and a plain yogurt sauce.  The kids always like to eat the meatballs on their own with a side of rice.

Kafta
1 lb ground beef, lamb, or venison
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh mint
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 slice white bread, cubed
1 egg
3 T kafta spice mix
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Place all ingredients in food processor except meat and 1 T spice mix and egg.  Pulse 5-6 times or until onion is diced, add egg.  Break up ground meat and place in food processor with egg and onion mix.  Season meat with reserved spice mix.  Blend until meat and onion mixture comes together and begins to form a ball.  (At this point I fry a tablespoon of the mixture and taste.  Then I adjust the seasoning if necessary.)  Form into desired shapes and cook on a hot grill.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Oatmeal with Coconut Milk and Caramelized Pineapple

I make oatmeal pretty often and enjoy it in a variety of forms.  I have been known to stir in a bit of peanut butter and jelly or top it with nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and a splash of milk...always good, but it's always a treat to add another flavor combination to the rotation.
I used what I had in the fridge to create this delicious new-to-me combination of coconut milk, pineapple, and muscovado sugar.  Oh my, talk about delicious!!  I hope you'll give it a try!

Oatmeal with Coconut Milk and Caramelized Pineapple  - serves 1
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 T sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1 T muscovado sugar or brown sugar

Bring the water and coconut milk to a boil.  Add 1 T sugar, salt, and oats.  Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until oats are cooked.  Pour oat mixture into a small bowl.  Rinse pan, if necessary, add pineapple chunks and muscovado sugar and sauté quickly over medium high heat until sugar melts and pineapple is warm. Pour over oatmeal.  Add a splash of milk if desired.
Look who snuck in after the photo shoot to gobble up the warm oatmeal!  

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