Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chicken in the Oven (3 Ways!)

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken by annbumbly
Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken w/a Twist
Over the last week or so, we've had three chicken dishes for dinner that we all loved and will repeat again and again. The first one, pictured above, Remy made and I took the loverly photo. For the other two, I found their delicious-looking photos on pinterest.com and, after much clicking, was finally able to track down both recipes! Remy's recipe is only six ingredients, and the next two are only four ingredients!

Here's a tip I've found to be extremely wonderful: Toward the end of cooking any chicken in the oven (or anywhere else), start checking to see if it's done by using a meat thermometer. Before I started using one (a digital thermometer), I almost always overcooked chicken because I was scared of not getting it cooked thoroughly.


Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken w/a Twist
The T'nG:

2 - 2 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces - Remy used skin-on chicken legs. (Use your favorite pieces.)
flour for dredging
1/2 - 1 cup milk
1 egg
1 box Kraft brand Oven Fry for Extra Crispy Chicken
1 package Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup & Dip Mix
2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 400º. Put oil on a cookie sheet and be sure all the sheet is covered in oil. Put flour in a bowl or bag. Mix together milk and the egg in another bowl. In your third bowl, mix together the box of Oven Fry and Lipton package. Dredge chicken pieces in the flour and shake off excess. Dip pieces in the milk/egg mixture, letting excess drip off. Roll pieces in the Oven Fry/Lipton mixture, pressing mixture into the chicken. Place on the cookie sheet. When all are coated, put pan in the oven and bake, if bone-in 20 minutes per side or until chicken registers 165º internally, if boneless, bake about 20 - 30 minutes in total, or until chicken registers 165º at the center of its thickest part.
Delicious! The onion packet gives it such a good flavor!


Please click on either of the above links to see a photo of this incredible chicken dish.

1 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs, bone-in and with skin (or use whatever pieces you want)
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
fresh chopped rosemary

Preheat oven to 450º. Mix together the mustard, maple syrup and rice wine vinegar. Put your chicken in an oven-proof baking dish; don't worry about crowding. Salt and pepper the chicken and then pour your maple-mustard mixture over them, turning to coat the pieces on all sides.  Put your dish in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until they are 165º at their thickest part. Let chicken rest, lightly tented, for 5 minutes before serving. Immediately after plating chicken, whisk in the 1 tbsp. of cornstarch into the liquid in the pan. You'll create a nice, thick sauce to drizzle over your chicken. You need to do cornstarch mixing immediately because the liquid needs to be hot in order for it to thicken properly. If it's still not thickening after 1 tbsp., you can add a little more. Be sure to spoon sauce over each serving, and add the rosemary.

*Witty in the City also sprinkled some fresh chopped rosemary over her chicken just before serving it. I didn't as I totally forgot to do this step - and I have a beautiful rosemary plant right in my kitchen! I'm sure it would have been delicious. 3/4/13 - this time I remembered to sprinkle the chicken with the rosemary - what a great additional taste! LOVE this dish!
I made a double batch of this for our Sunday Family Dinner, plus a double batch of the following recipe, thinking I'd have chicken to take to word all week. It's only Tuesday and every single morsel of both of them is history. Yup, they were that good!


Please click on either of the above links to see a photo of this incredible chicken dish.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or whatever chicken pieces you enjoy)
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

(This dish makes for a very sticky pan. Do yourself a favor and line you pan with foil for easy clean-up.)
Preheat oven to 500º. Lightly grease a casserole/baking dish. In a small skillet, over low-medium low heat, sauté garlic until tender - do not brown. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Place chicken breasts in the baking dish and cover each with the garlic and brown sugar mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake, uncovered for 15 - 30 minutes; until the chicken is 165º at its thickest part. Just delicious!



'till we feast again!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thai Stir-Fry w/Rice Noodles

Thai Stir-fry w/Rice Noodles by annbumbly
Thai Stir-Fry with Rice Noodles
(First and foremost, I do apologize for my photographic skills - well, actually, lack thereof! Most of my pictures are taken around dinner time and, as anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of photography is aware of, unless you have good camera lighting equipment, natural daylight and not just the camera's flash is most definitely the only way to go! However, I will guarantee you that tho the pictures leave a lot to be desired, the food does not! What's found here is not only tried & true, but scrumptious - and much better tasting than any stinkin' photo looks like!)

Though our youngest daughter Brynnlee has been in the food industry, both front and back of the house for, well, forever - and can she ever create one mean skillet of food - she's not the only good cook in our family. Eldest daughter Remy is turning out to be one mean cook as well. And it doesn't hurt that she spent the last year in Missouri cooking with her grandmother - who is one of the finest amateur chefs we've every known. Mom/Grandma Mary has always cooked healthfully, seasonally and innovatively long long before it became the only way to cook. I think the only processed food (if you can call it that) we ever had as children was orange-flavored Hi-C drink. Wonder if it's still made...
Now that Rem is home for the few weeks before she's off to her next adventure teaching in Haiti, she's more or less taken over my kitchen on the nights she's home. I thought I'd be bothered by this as I love to cook as well. Surprisingly, I'm not missin' cookin' one little bit! Rem's dad, on the other hand, isn't as keen on her cooking as she makes lots and lots of veggies, beans and whole grains. I've spoiled the man. Yes...there are Kraft Macaroni & Cheese boxes in our pantry (sigh). 
Remy threw the following together the other night using what she found in the pantry and fridge, and, yes, I really did happen to have rice noodles and canned unsweetened coconut milk in the pantry. I'm sure I was going to try some fancy-schmancy new recipe and then promptly talked myself out of it.  
We served it with chicken breasts that were pounded to be the same thickness, marinated for and hour and then char-grilled. 

~This one's a throw 'n go from start to finish!~

The T'nG:

The Sauce: 
1 13.5 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk (not the one in the dairy case)
3 tablespoons+/- soy sauce
3 tablespoons+/- rice vinegar
3 tablespoons Whole Foods brand Thai curry peanut dry mix*

*if you can't get to Whole Foods, use a mixture of curry and cayenne pepper. I'm sure there is also garlic powder and tumeric in there as well. It is very spicy!

Mix all in bowl and set aside.

The noodles: 
1 package rice noodles - we used the "A Taste of Thai" brand thin flat noodles - cooked almost to package directions, but undercook just a bit. When done, drain and cover; set aside.

The veggie stir-fry:
While you can use any veggie combination that suits your fancy, below is what Rem used as it's what was in the fridge. Just remember to put your veggies in the pan from what needs to saute the longest to what cooks in the shortest amount of time. The first group of ingredients, the stir-fry base are a must; the second group, up to you.

The stir-fry base:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, enough to coat the skillet plus extra if needed
4 - 8 cloves garlic, minced (amount to your taste - we love garlic!)
1" - 2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (amount to your taste - we love ginger, too!)
juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
large onion, halved across, the each sliced in half again. Slice in slivers from top to bottom

Saute in the olive oil all of the above for 5 or so minutes over medium high heat. Then add your other veggies in the order of what will cook longest to shortest. Below is what Rem used:

The whatever you want veggie combo:
red pepper, sliced into strips
broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
asparagus, cut into 2" pieces
sugar snap and snow peas, stemmed
frozen peas

Add the veggies in order of the cooking time needed. Toward the end, add the sauce and cook until all is well blended, about 5 - 9 minutes. Add the pasta and stir again till all is blended. Taste and correct seasonings - a splash of soy sauce, a dash of Kosher salt, a touch more ginger, a splash of lemon juice; stir...then serve and enjoy!



'till we feast again!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chicken Curry with all the Fixin's.

Chicken Curry w/all the fixin's. by annbumbly
Chicken Curry 
(that's a dollop each of apricot jam and chutney on top!)
(Click on the photo for two more pictures of the other stages of this recipe.)

When I was growing up in Missouri, my parents were part of a group of 12 bridge players that met once a month pretty much year round. One of the night's duties for whomever was hosting was feeding all those folks dinner. I remember this chicken curry dish well from those nights! First time I ate it, I fell in love! The flavors are just wonderful and it's such a pretty dinner to serve what with all the little bowls of the different flavors you put on top of the rice and chicken. Try it, and I guarantee everyone will be ohhing and ahhing! (This looks long and complicated. It's not. The entire thing takes maybe an hour - think shortcuts! And if you're having a dinner party, almost the entire dish can be made ahead of time.)

The T'nG: 

The main ingredients part:
5 cups chicken meat - I tend to lean toward all white meat, but you can certainly use dark as well
2 cans coconut milk (be sure it's UNsweetened and look for it in the Asian foods section) OR equivalent homemade coconut milk from a fresh coconut (directions below)
1-2 large cans chicken stock, or equivalent homemade, boiled down to 3 - 4 cups
1 cup chopped onion (or buy a container of already chopped)
1 cup chopped celery (see above)
1/4 cup++ unsalted butter
4 tablespoons or so flour
3 tablespoons+++ Madras brand curry - Penzey's has some great ones as well (hot curry if you prefer, I personally like the mild one and add cayenne)
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
cayenne pepper to taste
salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste 
2 cups basmati or jasmine rice, cooked according to pkg. directions so it's done just before you serve

The chicken part:
Simmer chicken in the canned chicken broth, or make your own broth - whichever is used, I always add 3 or 4 whole allspice and the juice from a fresh-squeezed lemon to enhance the broth's flavor. When the chicken is barely done (it will cook more toward the end), remove from broth and cool. When cool, shred/tear (no knives allowed!) it into bite-size pieces. (Tap on photo above to see an example of size.) Boil broth down till you have 3 - 4 cups. Skim off fat if there is any. 

The coconut part:
(Canned coconut milk is so much easier and NO one will know the difference!)
However, if you're feeling particularly ambitious: Poke open the holes in the end of 1 or 2 fresh coconuts, drain the juices from inside and discard (unless you want to drink it.) Break into manageable pieces (A hammer and a concrete cracking place works well.) Microwave pieces on high for 1 - 2 minutes. You can then carefully insert a knife between the shell and coconut meat and easily wiggle them apart. Put 2 - 3 cups HOT water in a blender, and while running on a slow speed, add the coconut meat pieces bit by bit. When all is added, blend on high until meat is very finely chopped. Let set until ready to use, then strain through cheese cloth. (This was written long before food processors - I'd think that would be a more efficient way to make this.)

In 2 tablespoons butter, saute the onion and celery. When becoming translucent, push aside to make a ring. Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the center, and when melted, add the flour and the curry. Stir, cooking for 3 - 5 minutes, then stir the entire skillet together. Transfer this mixture to the pot you boiled your chicken in and add 2 cups chicken broth and one can coconut milk. Simmer this mixture for about 30 - 40 minutes. (You can cool and refrigerate at this point.) Just before serving, heat and taste your curry mixture to be sure the seasonings are correct,(I always end up adding more curry and cayenne), then add chicken and mix thoroughly. Add at least 1/2 more can of coconut milk and more chicken broth if still too thick (again, click through on above photo to see an example).

The most important part: 
(What goes on top of your chicken curry (and what makes it such a perfect party entree).)
Putting each in their own pretty bowl with a spoon, you must include the following: 

3 hard boiled eggs, very finely chopped
1 cup +/- unsalted peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup +/- curly parsley, chopped
1 lb. bacon, fried very crisp, drained and finely broken up (I've been known to use bacon bits from Costco.)
1 cup +/- Major Grey's Mango Chutney (usually in the jelly/jam aisle)
1 cup +/- sweetened coconut, toasted
1 cup +/- fresh bananas, roughly chopped; squeeze a little lemon juice on to keep from discoloring
1 cup +/- apricot preserves
1 cup +/- scallions/green onions, tops included, roughly chopped
1 cup +/- golden raisins or currants
(If you think of anything else to add to this list, do let me know!)

To serve:
Put the chicken curry in one lovely serving dish, preferably with a lid. Place the rice in another bowl, preferably lidded, and place both on the buffet - this works much better if it's not on the table you're eating at. Place all the condiments by them. Let everyone serve themselves: rice first, curry mix over the rice, then the condiments in whatever combination each person wants. 
A green salad completes the meal. 

 The zing of all those flavors in your mouth is incredible!

This is so so good, everyone will love it, it's so impressive to serve, such fun for everyone to put together their own flavors, so cheap - just perfect!



'till we feast again!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

P-Dub's Pork Chops w/Pineapple Fried Rice

The pork chops w/the onions by annbumbly
The Pork Chops w/the Sauce & Onions Part
(click on the above photo to see 3 more)
(or just go to P-Dub's to see really good photos)

Smart girl that I am, when I see a particulary appealing recipe, I want to EAT it! And pretty much immediately. Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman/P-Dub for the 3 folks in the USofA that don't know who she is) posted a recipe for pork chops with grilled pineapple fried rice the other day that looked so darn good, I couldn't wait to try it. It didn't disappoint. Not in the least! Now don't go and compare my camera work to Ms. Drummond - there is absolutely no contest as to who is the better photographer - just do yourself a favor and visit the recipe link above or here to see her step-by-step pictures.
I followed all of P-Dub's recipe except the veggies in the fried rice (yup, that's the T'nG). I couldn't find the jarred pimentos (was at Whole Foods and they don't carry any), so for color, I added corn and 3 carrots. Delicious!

The T'nG:

1/2 whole pineapple, cut into spears
2 cups white (or brown) basmati rice
3 carrots, quartered length-wise and then cut so size is same as peas and corn
4 - 6 boneless pork chops
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
1 whole large sweet onion sliced, quarter slices (or slice from top to bottom - I like that better)
6 tablespoons reduced salt soy sauce (more to taste, or if more liquid is needed)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole eggs
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons soy sauce (additional)

Throw carrots in with the rice and then cook the rice according to package directions. (The brand of basmati I use calls for cooking 2 cups rice in 8 cups water and then drain when done.)
Grill  pineapple spears until they have good grill marks on all sides. When cool enough to handle, cut spears into bite-size chunks and set aside. Heat butter and oil over medium high heat, then add the pork chops to the pan. Saute on both sides until they have nice color. Throw in the sliced onions and work them into the crevices between the chops. Shake the pan and move the onions around and let them cook for a good couple of minutes.
When the onions are beginning to soften, add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey and sriracha. Shake the pan, stir it around, and let it cook and bubble up for a good couple of minutes until the chops and onions look like the above photo and to chops are done. Remove chops to a bowl, the let the cause cook another minute or two. Taste and correct seasoning of sauce. When satisfied, pour sauce over the chops and set all aside.
Add a small amount of oil to the same pan (without cleaning it) and return it to the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir it around, the crack in the eggs and immediately stir them to scramble them a bit. Add the peas and corn and a couple additional tablespoons soy sauce. Add the cooked and drained rice and carrots and stir all until well blended and frozen veggies are cooked through. Add the pineapple bites and gently give the fried rice a final stir.
To serve, pile rice on the plate, top with a porkchop and onions and drizzle some of the sauce over all.

'till we feast again!