Thursday, March 30, 2023

I Can't Give Anymore

Chicken Green Bean Dump Casserole
No one likes to get dumped, but it is highly appealing for weary cooks to know they can throw things in a pot and call it dinner. Dump casseroles are for those days when you have nothing more to give. The world has sucked it's last drop out of your lifeless body and now you must create dinner.  Dumps work, and they can still be delicious, despite their boorish name.  Some people hate their food to touch and others, like me, love when all the elements hang all over each other like drunk frat girls at a house party.  Everything in one bite.   And mixing chicken and rice with the comfort feel of a Thanksgiving Green Bean casserole works. 

It's creamy and crunchy and the vegetables make it feel more homemade.  The rice is risotto-ey without the work and it works for a quick pantry meal.  

Chicken & Green Bean Dump Casserole

-Chicken Thighs
-Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
-Chicken stock
-3/4 cup white rice
-frozen greens (I used green beans, peas)
-almond milk, milk or sour cream
-French Fried Onions
-flour and seasonings

Brown the well-seasoned and lightly floured chicken in Dutch casserole on both sides, add in chicken stock (about 3 cups) and 1 can of Cream of Mushroom, 1/4 cup almond milk and stir.  When boiling add in 3/4 cup of white rice, frozen vegetables, and 1/3 of the french fried onions, stir well.   Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Top with remaining onions and bake uncovered another 5 minutes.  

morning migas

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Winner Takes it All!

I am spiking my Brooklyn Monkey flag in the ground and claiming this my invention as I was not influenced by any on-line recipe.  Mexican Shrimp Fried Rice, using leftover day old Mexican rice and hot sauce. You could definitely add an egg to this but I added corn, green onion, fresh tomato, chili-spiced shrimp and jalapeno.  This was so dern delicious, I almost shed a tear.  A big handful of cold ice berg lettuce seasoned with lemon, s&p allowed the perfect crunchy bite! That little crisp on the rice takes you to your happy place. 
This was a great lunch box meal the next day.  This might be a good time to suggest to double your batch the next time you make a great rice of any kind because your universe just opened up on fried rice possibilities!  
You are welcome, my friend! 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

There's A Party Going on Right Here

Birthday Enchiladas
A 60th celebration for my mate called for a Deluxe plate of Beef Enchiladas with Mexican rice and saucy beans.  I made a platter of stuffed jalapeno peppers with homemade hot sauce and chips. 
My mom's special secret sauce recipe was requested again and I believe I may have perfected that balance of creamy and chili texture and flavor.  I can't do it everytime but baby when I do, it's dang special. 

The night before, we got John Wick'd at Alamo Drafthouse with snacks and sweets as is now customary. Tradition is good.  I used to think it was boring but there's something comforting about it, especially in these odd times.   I guess tradition is the comfort food of life.
Baked Jalepenos stuffed with cheese, garlic, hard chorizo and onion.  Never underestimate the bounty of flavor that emits from a roasted pepper.   

Thursday, March 23, 2023

You Make Me Feel Brand New

Sheet Pan Medley
It's impossible to invent a dish made with common ingredients, but sometimes like a song, using the same 3 chords, you are still able to make something fresh.  I was a pioneer of the sheet pan dinner (in my mind).  But due to the amount of experimental home cooks and professional chefs these days, I have to wonder if it's even possible to be the first one to create anything.  Hundreds of people more likely, woke up one day and decided to include meat on their roasted vegetable tray.  People have been adding carrots and potatoes under their pot roasts for decades but it wasn't until more recently that someone took a 1/2 sheet pan, threw a bunch of well oiled and seasoned vegetables along with some meat into the oven on high heat and called it dinner.   Thus was born the Sheet Pan Dinner.  Less clean up, no fuss, easy and more importantly, exceptionally tasty.  And little did anyone know just how versatile the theme could be.  The best part is you can use what you have. 
But the main benefit is that it's a meal by itself, so if you must, don't do more than make a grain to accompany it.  I made mellow Turmeric rice for this pepper, chick pea and ground beef SPM (sheet pan meal).  Vegetarians will delight in the meaty, savory texture of a roasted chick pea. For days!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

You See It's In the Blood

Mexican Take Out Dinner for Two
Brklyn Burro is a great Mexican spot far enough down the road that we don't get it often enough but on this day I tried the Family Platter, for two and fortified it with more hot sauce and guacamole (the least I could do).  I thought it was a great deal and enough to make 4 tacos with plenty of leftovers.  I love that they give roasted scallions, a way to this girl's heart.  I love me a green onion on the side of the plate, it reminds me of my mother.  She always had a little side green, a pepper, radish, avocado, green onion on her plate.  And it really is all about the sides and condiments for me too.  That's the color and excitement of any great meal.  

That morning I started the theme off with these delicious pulled pork breakfast tostadas.  Crispy carb-free torts with cheese, pulled pork, fried egg and jalapeno pesto.  

If It Makes You Happy

Asian Stewed Chicken
I worry sometimes they're going to go after cooking assimilation.  Busted for attempting to make dishes from other cultures, when you have no business.  What you call something is not as important as how it tastes but it can help you to describe what you were going for, as in this Asian Stewed Chicken.  I used Hoisin sauce, garlic, soy, ginger, honey, Sesame Oil and a little 5 Chinese Spice.  But does it really qualify or is it deserving of the name if I made it up myself?  I think so.  
Sometimes I sneer a little when I see a Mexican Lasagna or Enchiladas made with flour tortillas.  But in the end, especially now that we're heading towards the apocalypse, there should be no rules with food.  If you like to put ketchup on your tamales, like we did in the Midwest, go for it!  Food doesn't care.  


My Recipe

1/2 cup of honey

juice of 1 or 2 lemons

juice of one Smartie or Halo

package of chicken drumsticks

lots of garlic

soy sauce 3 tablespoons

2 tbs Hoisin sauce

2 tbs garlic chili sauce

chili flakes

2 - 3 bell peppers large chops

brown chicken in dutch oven, throw in all other ingredients, cover and put in 375 degree oven for one hour. Top with fresh cilantro and green onions.   Serve over white rice. 

My sister's clouded mountain view

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

What I Like About You

Shrimp Over Corn Meal Masa
Similar to Shrimp and Grits, I like the taste of Corn Meal Masa with my Shrimp.  It is heartier and easily modified to fit a cheesy, saucy or garlicky theme.  You can do silky smooth like a Polenta or grainier, more earthy, as I did here.  I consider corn meal to be more versatile but my sister likes grits, so I've always felt I'm missing a whole world of wonder.  However, my husband has some weird food texture aversion.  He can't eat things that are too smooth.  For example, Cream of Wheat, Oatmeal, Tapioca, and although I only remember trying grits with him once, he'd already proclaimed he hated them.  For whatever reason he accepts corn meal.  Finicky eaters have no place in my world, but I do understand liking what you like.  People have no control in some sense, although I feel I taught myself to love slimy things like eggplant, cactus, even okra although I'd never seek them out.  If someone offered me a potato, egg and cactus breakfast burrito I would kiss them and ask if they had any green hot sauce. 

Bok Choy,Mushrooms, onion and fresh tomatoes went on top as well as bacon!

Monday, March 20, 2023

It's Unnatural, You Belong to Me

If you're like many of us, not getting any younger, you're trying to stay away from foods like bread and heavy starches.  Or you have dietary restrictions.  But even though you know something is bad for you, sometimes you just gotta have it.  Bread is one of those foods that can bring instant joy.  How many things in life can do that? In those times that I must have joy, I buy a loaf of good grain bread and be sure to utilize it in fun but moderate ways.  Like these pizza toasts!  A little spaghetti sauce, some cheese and turkey pepperoni on bread brushed with olive oil or mayonnaise, placed on a rack or pizza stone in the oven for about 10 minutes at 450 will toast up and become THE best either grilled cheese plopped together or served open-faced.  Add a salad and this will change from a snack to a meal.  

Thursday, March 16, 2023

She's Got a Way About Her

Italian Meatloaf
If you haven't already, I would strongly suggest you make this recipe.  Yes, meatloaf is considered an everyday-no big shakes-dinner but I promise you this is special.  I added the turkey pepperoni on top.  I had to make this again to prove it wasn't my imagination last time, that it really did pack a unique punch of flavor. It's cooked in this simple tomato sauce but that also allows a nice sauced-up serving.  You can serve over polenta instead of mashed potatoes.  You could also serve it with a side of noodles, using the sauce or just vegetables, like garlicky green beans.  
Julia Collin Davidson of America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country, uses a ream of crushed saltine crackers and soaks them in milk instead of breadcrumbs and somehow these become the magic ingredient.  The Parmesan is also delectable.  
I had once thought people who overthought food didn't 'get it', that they were missing the soul it took to create the most delicious food because that's how I knew it.  Not by people who had studied at schools but who grew up watching and learning in that way.  Now I realize these folks, like the ladies above are the studio musicians, the Wrecking Crew if you will of the culinary world.  They do get it and make it better by finding the most efficient way to prepare and crisp and cream and make outstanding.  Now, I get it.