Thursday, December 27, 2012

Recipe 34: Chicken Breasts Pierre

So after dabbling in fancy dishes with Salmon and Quinoa, I decided to once again go back the the old staple chicken.  I think that this is just about my last chicken dish that I made.... which seems unlikely given that I have made a lot.  I never knew there were so many ways to make chicken, before I attempted this new recipe every week thing.  In general, having a new way to make chicken was kind of a life saver since it was always easy and I could usually whip through it on days when I didn't want to attempt something massive.

For this dish I found something that sounded kind of exotic, but it also had really good reviews, so I figured I would try it.  Here is a picture of the final result.  The recipe doesn't call for it, but I served it on top of a bed of white rice since many reviewers recommended that.  I almost think that the tomato sauce mixed with the rice was my favorite part of this dish.


And here is the recipe that I used: (Link)

Ingredients

  •      6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  •     1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1 pinch ground black pepper
  •     3 tablespoons butter
  •     1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid
  •     1/2 cup water
  •     2 tablespoons brown sugar
  •     2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  •     2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     2 teaspoons chili powder
  •     1 teaspoon mustard powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  •     1 clove garlic, minced
  •     1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Directions

  1. In a shallow dish or bowl, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper. Coat chicken breasts with flour mixture. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown chicken on all sides. Remove from skillet, and drain on paper towels.
  2. In the same skillet, combine the tomatoes, water, brown sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt, chili powder, mustard, celery seed, garlic and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and return chicken to skillet. Cover, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until chicken is tender, no longer pink and juices run clear.

Changes

I made a few minor changes to this.  The first was just in how much I made, I only made four breasts.  The second is how I applied the flour mixture.  Sometime during this year I found that the best way to apply a flour or any coating to meat, especially to chicken, is to mix everything together in a ziploc bag and then drop the breast in and move it around inside the bag.  This is terrific and really easy. (Note: It feels odd to actually have a cooking tip to give out, even if it might be well known)

The final change was that I cooked up some white rice to serve with this.  I thought the rice complimented this dish really well and I would definitely recommend making it if you make this recipe.

The Process

So after coating the chicken in flour, I started to cook them in the skillet.  Since it is going to cook more with the sauce you don't want to cook them all the way through, simply brown it on all sides.



 This was hard for me to accept, but I figured the recipe knew best.  Here is the chicken after finishing on the skillet.

 I next started the sauce, shown below.

Once it was ready I added the chicken to the mixture.

I let it simmer and then moved on to the rice.  Sprinkles observed me from her perch at the top of the cabinets.

Soon the dish was ready, and the final result is below.

I really liked this dish.  It was pretty simple, but also very good.  The sauce on the rice was terrific and the chicken was good too.

Since I know what comes next, I will preview the future.  Things are about to get slightly higher scale.  Up to this point I had mostly been making things from allrecipes.com, which was good because for the most part the recipes are straightforward and easy enough for me to make.  But starting with the next recipe, I got the majority of my recipes from finecooking.com, which is sort of a step up from me.  It will be interesting to see how I fare...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Recipe 32: Maple Salmon and Recipe 33: Quinoa with Sweet Potato and Mushrooms

So, I am way behind in writing these blogs, I don't remember exactly when I made this, though my camera says I took these pictures on October 29th.  So I guess that is when.  I made these recipes together and this marked the start of a lot of quinoa dishes.  Quinoa is really healthy and I have enjoyed a lot of these dishes.

One reason I am combing these two recipes is because I made them together, but also because I need to just get through my massive backlog (around 20 recipes).  Normally, it would be nice to split these up and highlight each one in its own post.

Here is the final result of these two recipes:


Here is the recipe for the Maple Salmon that I used(Link):

Ingredients

1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound salmon

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper.
  2. Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish, and coat with the maple syrup mixture. Cover the dish, and marinate salmon in the refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake salmon uncovered 20 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork.

Changes

I think that the only change that I made was to used 2 pounds of salmon and double the size of the glaze.

Here is the recipe for the Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes that I used(Link):

Ingredients

1/3 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Directions

  1. Stir the quinoa in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to take on a toasty aroma, about 5 minutes. Pour in the water, and add pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and cayenne pepper; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the sweet potato is soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour a splash of water into the skillet if needed to keep the vegetables from burning. Spoon the vegetable mixture over a bed of quinoa, and sprinkle with chopped pecans to serve.

Changes

I made a few changes to this recipe.  The first was the size, I used 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of veggie broth to cook it in.  I have found that cooking the qunioa in broth make it a lot better, than just cooking it in water.

The second change was that I used 2 sweet potatoes and increased the size of the onion I used to medium.  Finally, I added a little bit of cinnamon and also increased how much cayenne that I added.

The Process

I started by allowing Sprinkles to investigate the salmon, she seemed to enjoy it, at least through the bag.

 So then I prepared the glaze and mixed it up.

 I then brushed the glaze onto the salmon and wrapped it in aluminum foil.

I then prepared the veggies for the quinoa.  I peeled and chopped up the sweet potatoes. 


I then chopped and diced the onions.  These were among the strongest that I have encountered.  In fact they even made Sprinkles cry.  I am not sure that this picture shows it, but trust me, she is tearing up.

I then put the salmon in the oven, and started making the quinoa and veggies.  Here you can see the quinoa toasting and the onions starting.

After a few minutes I added the broth to the quinoa  and added the rest of the veggies to the onions and cooked them.

Soon the salmon was done and removed from the oven. I tested it by using a fork to flake it.  I think that I ended up cooking it slightly longer than the recipe called for.

After a few minutes the quinoa and veggies were all done.  To serve this I just dished out the quinoa and then added the veggies on top of them.

Overall, I thought that the salmon was terrific and the maple glaze really added a lot.  I also enjoyed the quinoa dish.  I thought that the sweet potatoes were really good with it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recipe 31: Sweet Potatoes with Sausage and Peppers

I have discovered that one of my favorite ingredients, especially in the fall is sweet potatoes.  I am not exactly sure why, but in the fall it just seems right.  Also, they are good... so there is always that.

I marked this recipe a long time ago as something that I wanted to try.  Overall, it was pretty simple and quick, but it contains a lot of ingredients that I really like and I think the result was terrific.


Here is the recipe that I used (Link):

Ingredients


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (8 ounce) jar chunky salsa
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble sausage into skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Remove sausage with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil from the skillet. Heat oil over medium heat and add bell peppers, onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add to the skillet the potatoes, sausage, salsa and cumin. Stir and cook about 5 minutes to heat through and blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper.

Directions

The only thing worth pointing out was how I served this.  I think that what really made this meal was the addition of sour cream and pitas.  Spooning it up with pitas was really good.

The Process

The first step was to peel the sweet potatoes.  Sprinkles was interested


At least until she smelled it.... She then immediately recoiled.



Once the potatoes were peeled and diced, I started cooking them.  I then chopped up the sausage and started cooking that as well.

After the meat was done I cooked the veggies in the pan.  Then I mixed everything together and cooked it a little while while stirring.

Here is just the dish.

And here is the entire meal.  Again, I think that the pita and sour cream made this dish amazing.  I thought this was really good and it was easy to make as well which was an added bonus.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Recipe 30: Irish Shepards Pie

A couple of my friends went on a trip to Ireland and so in honor of that I decided to try making something that was kind of Irish.  I settled on trying to make a version of Shepards Pie.
Over all, this recipe was pretty easy to make and was also pretty good.  I made this and took it over to Eric and Allison's and watched the first presidential debate with them.

Here is a (kind of blurry) picture of the final result:


 And here is the recipe that I used (link):

Ingredients



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 pounds lean ground lamb
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups water, or as needed
  • 1 (12 ounce) package frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 pound Irish cheese (such as Dubliner®), shredded
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Place olive oil and butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in onion and ground lamb; brown the meat, breaking it up into small crumbles as it cooks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in flour until incorporated, then mix in salt, black pepper, rosemary, paprika, cinnamon, ketchup, and garlic; cook and stir until garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in water and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium-low and bring mixture to a simmer; cook and stir until thick, about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Remove lamb mixture from heat and stir in peas and carrots until combined.
  6. Spread lamb mixture into the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside.
  7. Place potatoes into a large pan of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and return potatoes to pan.
  8. Mash butter, cayenne pepper, cream cheese, and Irish cheese into the potatoes. Mash until combined and potatoes are smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  9. Whisk together egg yolk and milk in a small bowl; stir into the mashed potato mixture.
  10. Top the lamb mixture in the baking dish with the mashed potatoes and spread evenly to cover.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling up around the edges, 25 to 30 minutes.

Changes

The only change that I made was the type of meat that I used.  I didn't really want to make lamb and so I decided to just use ground beef instead.  This may have made it less authentic, but I felt better about it.

I guess that I also changed in that I didn't use a Dutch Oven, I just cooked this on the stove.

The Process

This was a kind of involved recipe, but still wasn't too bad.  Perhaps that actually means that I have improved as a cook?

Anyway, the first step was to chop up the potatoes and cook them.


While they were cooking I started the meat mixture.  I cooked the ground beef and then added the veggies.

Once that was done, I spread it out in a 9x13 casserole dish.

Once the potatoes were done I added the cheese, milk, and other assorted ingredients and mashed it all up.

I then spread that out over the meat mixture and put it in the oven.

I took it out when the edges were bubbling and the potatoes were golden brown.

And once again, here is the final result.

I really liked this recipe.  I thought it was really good.  I think it might be better served with something as a side dish... but I am not sure exactly what. 

While there are a lot of ingredients and instructions, this dish was actually pretty simple to make and was also really good.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Recipe 29: Pulled Pork

While the last few recipes were simple and not all that impressive, I was super pleased with this one and it was also really simple.  I am not sure exactly why I decided to make pulled pork, I think I was just looking at recipes and found it. One thing that appealed to me was that it used a slow cooker.  I have managed to indefinitely borrow one of those from Eric and Allison.  So I figured that I might as well actually use it.

Regardless, I have made this 4 times total and everyone that I have shared it with has really liked it, so I think that is a good sign!

Here is the final result.  I had it with sandwich form with coleslaw in the top:


And here is the recipe that I used (link):

Ingredients

  •     1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
  •     1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle root beer
  •     1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite barbecue sauce
  •     8 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

Directions

  1. Place the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours. Note: the actual length of time may vary according to individual slow cooker. Drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce. Serve over hamburger buns.

Changes

I made a lot of changes to this recipe, based on suggestions from other users.  The first and by far the most important change was to use pork shoulder instead of pork tenderloin.  So I bought a 5 pound pork shoulder instead of the tenderloin.

Because of the increase in size, I also increased how much soda and BBQ sauce that I used.  I used to bottles of root beer and two bottles of BBQ sauce, instead of the one recommended.  The type of root beer doesn't really matter, I would recommend Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, since it is really good, but if you have another favorite, I am sure that would be great too.

The final change, which I think made a big difference is that after I am done shredding the pork  added it back to the slow cooker with the BBQ sauce and cooked it for another hour.

The Process

So at first I was unsure about cooking the pork in the root beer.  I wondered if it would make it taste weird, or like root beer.  So I did some research and basically the root beer simply is used to soften up the meat.

I added the pork shoulder to the slow cooker and then put the root beer in.  The root beer didn't quite cover up the pork, but I figured that was OK.

This is what it looked like when I was ready to take it out of the slow cooker.

This might have been one of sprinkles favorite dishes that I have made.  She snarfed down as much pork as I would give her.

To separate the pork I put it on a cookie sheet and then used two forks to pull it apart.  I made sure to separate the fat from the good meat.  You can sort of see it off in the corner of the sheet in the picture below.

I then put the pork back in the slow cooker and added the BBQ sauce.  It then cooked for another hour.

While that was cooking I made some coleslaw and used that to make the sandwiches.

I thought that this recipe turned out amazing.  The pork is really good, and this has been confirmed by the people that I have shared this with.  In later iterations I used Kaiser Rolls instead of hamburger buns.  I though that the Kaiser Rolls were much better and would for sure recommend those.