Coconut Lime Chicken

Mommy really likes quick and easy meals. She also likes to use her slow-cooker. It makes life easy when Mommy can throw some ingredients in the pot, plug it in, turn it on, rush us off to school and have dinner waiting when we get home in the evening. This semester Mommy is teaching a late afternoon class, so she picks me up at school at about 5pm. Having dinner waiting for us when we get home is wonderful – especially when it’s cold outside.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know we like all sorts of different foods in this house. And Mommy and I like to experiment with different types of cuisine. Not too long ago Mommy found what looked like a yummy dish on Pinterest.  It combined some of our favorite flavors – coconut, lime, curry, spicy, sweet, citrus, yum! The recipe wasn’t for the slow-cooker, but Mommy thought it was worth a try. It worked out quite well. It was so tasty Daddy ate the leftovers in less than 24 hours after dinner!

Serve it with some steamed rice, cous cous, or our new favorite, quinoa, and it makes a perfect meal.

So here’s what we tried:

Ingredients

Into you slow cooker goes about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. You could go without this probably, but the original recipe called for some oil, so we used a little here. Add the zest of one lime and then the juice too.

Oil and Zest

To this add the rest of the spices, adjust the amounts depending on your taste, these are amounts are approximate: 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons of curry powder, pinch of cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.

Spices

Then add the liquid: 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 2 Tablespoons Agave syrup (the original recipe called for sugar, you could substitute the sweetener of your choice.)
Then add the 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Sauces and Chicken

Turn you slow cooker on low and walk away. Leave it for 6-8 hours. About 15 minutes before you’ll serve it, add a bag of frozen peas and allow them to heat through.

Mommy made some cous cous the first time we had this. She made it with V-8 instead of water and that made it delicious and nutritious!

with Cous Cous

We owe special thanks to Grandma for asking for this recipe and getting me motivated to post it!

Sunday Dinner – Roast Chicken

It has begun to cool off here in Baltimore and while we still have a few 70-degree days ahead of us there is also a nip in the air some days, especially in the morning. Mommy took advantage of this and made a real Sunday dinner this weekend. She also took advantage of some of the yummy items we can still find at our local farmer’s market.

Like so many of the other things Mommy makes, there’s no real recipe here – add what you like.

Mommy started with cutting some fall veggies into chunks and putting them into the bottom of a large baking dish. You could also use a roasting pan for this. We had gone to the farmer’s market earlier in the week and found some patty pan squash and Japanese eggplant as well as some fingerling potatoes. She cut the first two into chunks, but left the potatoes whole because they were already small. I also like roasted carrots and beets, so Mommy added some of those too. She peeled both and cut them into chunks as well. Then, for some flavor, she added about 5 cloves of garlic, just smashed and peeled and two onions cut into wedges. Then she added about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper (to taste) and tossed it all together.

It looked so pretty.

Mommy used those pretty veggies as a bed for a roasting chicken. Make sure your chicken is fully thawed. And then she ducked outside and picked a few sprigs of fresh herbs – we still have some thyme and rosemary. Mommy just scattered them over and around the chicken. She also added some salt and pepper to the chicken and about a tablespoon of butter, broken up with her fingers, to the chicken.

Place in a 425-degree oven for about an hour. It is done when a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh (careful not to hit bone) registers 165 degrees and/or the juices run clear. Don’t rely on the plastic pop-up thing that comes in the chicken, they’re not always reliable.

Mommy doesn’t really slice the chicken into thin slices. Carving a bird is really not a pretty thing. She pulls off the drumsticks and the wings and cuts the breast meat off and slices it into chucks. Doesn’t make any difference to me; it still tastes yummy.

Oven-Baked Ravioli, A Book Club Recipe

Mommy belongs to a book club and, like most book clubs, meetings are as much about food and wine as they are about books.

Book club night means two food-related things for me. One: Mommy makes some yummy treat during the day to take to book club, and Two: she doesn’t leave any for me so Daddy and I have to fend for ourselves for dinner.

Yesterday I lucked out though. Mommy let me taste some of the snacks she was bringing to book club, because there were plenty.

This is more of a method than a recipe – you can make it your own in many ways. Mommy said if she were doing the ravioli again for snacking she’d use smaller ravioli so they’d be just one bite. We had plain bread crumbs, so Mommy seasoned them with garlic, parsley and oregano. Those are the herbs usually found in “seasoned” bread crumbs. Oregano is considered the “pizza” herb in Italian cooking (if you’ve ever had anything “pizzaiola,” it has lots of oregano in it – if you don’t like this flavor, leave it out.) She also added some grated Parmigiano – that always makes everything tasty! This is where you can really make this dish your own – flavor it the way you like, maybe with some cayenne or other hot pepper and some cumin to give it a smokey flavor. That might be tasty with a salsa for dipping instead of tomato sauce.

Anyway, here’s the method: Thaw a package of frozen cheese ravioli. You could always make your own, but that’s a different blog entry and there isn’t that kind of time before book club! Mommy thawed ours on paper towels because she also wanted the ravioli to be dry.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two shallow dishes for the ravioli coatings. Mommy usually uses an egg beaten with a little milk or water for the first coat, but we were out of eggs and happened to have some heavy cream, so she used that instead. The idea is to have some liquid (preferably with some fat to it) to dip the ravioli in so that the next coating will stick. The second dish should have your breadcrumbs and whatever seasoning you want added. You should add enough herbs and/or spices to your breadcrumbs so that you can see they’re there but not so much that it’s more herb/spice than breadcrumb. Mommy didn’t measure, but if I had to guess, I’d say she used about 1 teaspoon of each herb and about 3/4 cup breadcrumbs.

Spray a cooking sheet with your choice of cooking spray. Mommy usually has both olive oil and canola oil based sprays in the house. She used olive oil for this.

Working like an assembly line, dip the ravioli in the liquid and get it well coated. Let the excess liquid drip off and then place the ravioli in the breadcrumbs. Again, make sure it is well coated before moving it to the baking sheet. Continue working until your baking sheet is full or you have coated all your ravioli.

Spray the tops of the ravioli with your cooking spray. Place in the oven for about 5-8 minutes then flip them all over and allow to cook for another 5-8 minutes. They will begin to puff up a little bit and get crispy and golden brown. Remove from oven and serve with whatever dipping sauce you think is appropriate. Mommy used some basic tomato sauce she had canned last summer.

They were yummy. I’m glad there were extras!

Friendly Brunch

Daddy used to work at Johns Hopkins hospital here in Baltimore. He still keeps in touch of some of his friends from there. He has one friend who recently left Hopkins and is thinking about joining the company Daddy works for now. Daddy invited him and his wife for breakfast this morning. We’ve done breakfast with them before and we usually alternate who provides food. Today was our turn. We had delicious bacon, chives and blue cheese drop biscuits, egg nests and fruit salad. Daddy says Mommy upped the ante for the other lady. I’m not sure what that means, but I know breakfast was yummy.

(Sorry the pictures aren’t great quality this time around… the battery in Mommy’s camera died so these are phone pictures.)

The biscuit recipe was adapted from one on http://smittenkitchen.com/

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
5 oz crumbled blue cheese (one container of crumbles)
handful of chives, chopped
1 cup milk with a splash of vinegar added (to make it buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter (your hands are the best tool for this, but if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, use a pastry cutter, a fork or two knives) until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add crumbled bacon, chopped chives and blue cheese. Gently stir into flour mixture.

Add milk and stir (again, hands are best) just until combined – don’t overwork this, lumps will work themselves out in the oven, I promise.

Butter a baking sheet or use parchment paper or silicon liner. Drop dough (once again, your hands work well, or use a large table spoon) into 12 mounds on to baking sheet. Bake about 18 minutes – until the golden brown hue of your preference.

Can you believe we forgot to take a picture of the golden brown and delicious product? And, of course, we ate them all!

These are best served warm and while we had them with breakfast today, we have had them with dinner before too. When we had them with dinner there was no bacon or chives, so you can change-up the add-ins as you like. And if for some crazy reason you don’t like blue cheese, most semi-soft to hard cheeses would work just fine. Grated cheddar with bacon and chives would be tasty and my mouth is watering thinking about adding grated parmesan and pancetta.

The egg nests are easy too, but need to be made right before serving (the biscuits could be made ahead, frozen and then popped in the oven while still frozen – just add a few minutes to the baking time.)

If you saw the post about soft-boiled eggs, this idea came about in much the same way – multiple food blogs talking about it all at the same time…

Eggs (you could make this for one, if you want)

1 oz of shredded cheese (any hard cheese would work, we used cheddar today) per egg

salt, to taste (this really depends on the cheese you use)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (or just leave it on after baking your biscuits!)

Separate the eggs. This morning we made five eggs since there were five of us, including me – of course I got my own egg! But you can make as few or as many as you want. But be careful when you separate the eggs – don’t break the yoke. It is best to separate one egg at a time into two small bowls and then pour the white into your mixing bowl. If your yolk breaks and gets into the white set that egg aside for another use and start again.

Using an electric mixer – you could use your whisk and elbow grease, Mommy says you won’t need to do any arm exercises at the gym if you do this by hand – beat the eggs whites until stiff peaks form. Even with an electric mixer this may take a few minutes. If there is even a trace of yolk or any fat in your bowl you can beat forever and it probably won’t work.

Gently fold in the shredded cheese.

Make mounds (one for each egg) on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Use a spoon to create a small divot in each mound (like a nest.)

Bake about 5 minutes. Merengue will start to brown, but you don’t want to overcook because they’re going back in the oven again.

Place the yolk of the egg into the divot in your nest.

Return to oven for another 3-5 minutes (depending on how firmly cooked you want your egg yolk to be.)

 

Mommy added a little extra chopped chives for garnish. She didn’t use any salt because the cheddar was enough, but if you use something like Swiss with a little less salt in it, you can add salt to the egg whites before beating them.

And of course, we had a fruit salad to round it all out – it included blueberries. And my new favorite – strawberries!

 

 

Spring Breakfast – Soft Boiled Eggs

Mommy subscribes to quite a few food blogs, and reads a few more. She said they must have all decided to come together and send one message in the last few weeks: soft-boiled eggs. They’ve been everywhere. She thought they would make a good breakfast for the day before Easter, so yesterday we went out and bought egg cups. Nothing fancy. Mommy promised we would look for a special one just for me in our coming travels or local antique shops. For today I got a basic white one with two little chicken feet sticking out. I think it’s pretty special. We also bought little spoons to eat our eggs with.

Many people seem to have difficulty with eggs. Apparently, cooking eggs is often a test in culinary school. Soft-boiled eggs shouldn’t be so hard. It’s really quite simple. Bring a pot of water to boil. Carefully add the eggs (don’t crowd the pot, don’t add so many the water doesn’t cover them) and boil for exactly six (6) minutes. Rinse quickly with cold water to stop the cooking. Cut a “lid” off the top, add some salt and pepper and dig in.

Mommy also made soldiers for dipping. She sliced a sandwich size ciabatta roll into fingers, tossed them with melted butter, grated cheese, oregano and garlic powder. Spread the fingers on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping them over about halfway through cooking.

I think any food that gets its own special dish, is just my size and I can dip things into is one terrific food!

Easter Preparations

You didn’t think I’d write about our Italian traditions for Christmas Eve and leave out Easter, did you? Easter will be here very soon, which can only mean one thing – time to make the Easter Pizzas. These go by many names – Pizza Gaina (Chena, in Italian,) Pizza Rustica, among others – in my family they are known as delicious and Mommy is the keeper of the recipes.

Sorry, I’m not allowed to put the recipes here because Mommy says they are secret family recipes. She says I will have them one day, when I am old enough to become the keeper and I can decide what to do with them then, but for now she is not willing to share. Apparently, there are not many people in the family that even have the family recipe. I know it is an old one. Mommy has put the recipes on her computer and has put away the thin pieces of paper with the handwritten recipes so they don’t get ruined. These recipes come from my great, great Aunt Michelena (or Merch, or Marge, depending on how close you were to her.)

I never had the chance to meet her, but Mommy and Nonno say she was a wonderful lady who was always welcoming and always had food. If you stopped to visit her, she would say, “Do you have time for a little piece of cheese? Maybe a little sandwich?” And before you knew it there would be an amazing spread of antipasti on the kitchen table. I think I would have liked her.

So, Mommy got the recipes from her great aunt Merch, and aunt Merch probably got them from her mommy (that would be Nonno’s Granma!)

Anyway, you can imagine these are pretty special recipes. If you want to make Easter Pizzas yourself, you can find recipes in many places – just “Google it.” There are many variations. The ones Mommy makes are like Italian cheesecake. She makes a few variations herself. This year she made two different kinds: a sweet and a savory. Here’s a bit of what the process looks like:

First, the crust is pretty sticky. It includes egg and quite a bit of shortening. I don’t know if it’s shortening because butter changes it too much or if butter was just too expensive. Either way, we don’t mess with it.

Mommy let me help roll out the dough, even though I was feeling a little under the weather with a spring cold.

 

The fillings have lots and lots of ricotta and eggs. They both start with the cheese being mixed with some flour (and sugar and a little orange zest for the sweet one) and then adding the eggs and beating it until it gets frothy.

Then the sweet one gets poured into the crust and baked.

The savory one gets an assortment of meats and cheeses mixed in before being poured into the crust. This year Mommy used some hot sausage, Genoa salami, sharp provolone and Romano.

They get baked at 350 for about an hour.

Don’t they look yummy?

O Christmas Tree

Okay, so technically this is my second Christmas, but I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate much last year. And last year was a little crazy in our house. We had just moved and Mommy wasn’t even really sure she was going to do anything for Christmas because we were going to spend Christmas Eve with my Oma and Pop and Christmas Day with Granma and Granpa. Mommy did break down and put up some decorations, but we didn’t get a tree.

This year we are having Christmas at our house and everyone is coming to us. And we got a tree.

We got our tree today, as a matter of fact. We went to a farm and walked all around and picked out a tree and Daddy cut it down. I helped push the cart we used to carry the tree back to our car.

That sort of thing works up quite an appetite, so it’s a good thing Mommy was thinking ahead and put dinner in the Crock Pot before we left the house. That way, when we got home, we had a delicious dinner waiting for us. And it was delicious. You want to know what it was, don’t you? Well, here’s the recipe – I’m not sure what to call it, other than yummy:

You’ll need 3 small granny smith apples, cored and cut into chunks (Mommy left the peel on ours, but you could peel them if you prefer,) one large can (or two small cans, or a bag) of sauerkraut, six bratwursts, 2 cans of whole new potatoes. These amounts made enough for the three of us for dinner, the dogs to have some mixed with their kibble and some leftovers for about two  adult lunches this week.

Put everything except the potatoes into the crock pot. Mommy put the bratwursts on top, but if you want them to brown a little, you should put them on the bottom. Turn the crock pot on low and walk away. After 4 hours (or more, depending on what you have to do that day) open it up and give it a little stir. Add the potatoes (drained) about half an hour before you’re going to eat – they really only need to be heated through. We ate it just the way it was and I couldn’t get enough of the bratwursts. I suppose you could skip the potatoes and pile this unto hotdog rolls. My Daddy suggested we might put the bratwursts on a hot grill or in a hot skillet just to sear them on the outside before putting them into the crock pot. Maybe we’ll do that next time. If you try it that way, let me know how it turns out.

I’ll have another recipe for you soon. As I said, we’re having Christmas at our house this year and Mommy and Daddy are going to test drive some of the recipes they’re planning – especially for the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve! I can’t wait.