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Mama Kitchen and The Universe Giving Back

I admit, I have been totally delinquent in my blogging, BUT! there has been good reason.  Mama Kitchen had surgery this week — everything went smoothly, but I wanted to be here to help take care of her and to help out during the recuperation.  So yes, delinquent blogger, but, also, good daughter.   I think these things even out.  Apparently, the universe has seen fit to reward me today and I couldn’t be happier.  You see,  I just won a gift certificate to Williams Sonoma.  (Did anyone else just hear a choir of angels? Cause I sure did.)  And who, you might ask, is the fairy godmother who hath bestowed this unbelievably good fortune?  It’s Merci New York, this fantastic resource for chic, sophisticated stylish brides.   And while Merci can plan any sort of event, their blog (Merci New York Blog) is an absolute must-read for brides.

Now – on to the recipes!  Mama Kitchen chose this next one, but it’s really a perfect fit with our recent focus on fall produce.  It’s getting chilly down here in South Carolina and the perfect cure for that? Chowder. Specifically — Chicken and corn chowder.

 

Chicken and Corn Chowder

2 chicken breast cutlets (I’m sorry, I forgot to weigh them), cut into cubes

6 cups chicken stock

2 15.25 oz cans of corn, strained

3 celery stalks, diced

6 small russet potatoes, chopped into chunks

1/2 medium onion or 1 small onion, diced

2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp dill

1 1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tsp olive oil

2 tbsp flour

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saute the diced onions until soft (about 3-4 minutes).  Then add chicken and cook together with onions over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.  Add celery, green peppers and spices.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring soup to a boil.   Let cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.  Ladle out 1 cup of the boiling broth into a bowl (or measuring cup).  Slowly stir in the 2 tbsp of flour.  This will help to thicken your soup.  After the flour has been completely incorporated into the broth, return the mixture to the soup pot and stir in and mix completely.  Add potatoes and corn.  Let cook for another 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.  Add heavy cream, and mix into broth.  Let soup simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes.  (Note, you can also use corn starch in place of flour to thicken the soup.)

 

Diced potatoes for chicken and corn chowder

Diced potatoes for chicken and corn chowder

 

 

Chicken and corn chowder

Chicken and corn chowder

 

 

Chicken and corn chowder

Chicken and corn chowder

 

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Filed under Chicken, Dinner, Recipes, Soups and Stews, Tidbits

Stew it up

I won a cookbook giveaway!  Since Mr. Kitchen and I have started planning our wedding, I’ve become a devoted wedding blog reader.  I recently entered a giveaway hosted by OneWed for the Dam Good Sweet Cookbook by Beard nominee David Guas, and I won!  The cookbook features New Orleans-style desserts and I can’t wait to give it a try.  (How I’m going to fit into a wedding dress, I have no idea.)  Mr. Kitchen is in for a yummy fall!  Speaking of yummy, Mr. Kitchen and I have been working tons and tons over the past few weeks, and we are plum tired.  So tired, that I forgot to buy tickets for today’s Vendy Awards.  So instead of spending the afternoon tasting the delicious fare of some of the city’s best food trucks, we’re heading over to Eataly.  Something tells me my bank account is going to be very angry with me later… Hey, some girls shop for shoes — I shop for food!

Anyway, on to fall produce!  Next up: Carrots.  Definitely one of the most versatile of the fall vegetables, carrots can go in, well almost any dish, and one of the easiest fall dishes to prepare is a hearty, stick to your ribs beef stew.  Seriously all you need is the ability to chop, brown and boil to make stew.  I’ve used lots of different cuts of beef for stews but I recently tried giving short ribs a try.  I really liked the way it turned out — the marbled meat was definitely falling off the bone by the time the stew was done and it was absolutely tender.  I’m also a firm believer (and perhaps this is my Irish heritage talking), that you can put in almost any vegetables you’ve got lying around.

Fall Short Rib Stew

Fall Short Rib Stew

Short Rib Stew

7-8 hearty-sized short ribs

3 celery stalk (roughly chopped)

3 shallots (roughly chopped)

2 medium sized carrots (roughly chopped)

2 Yukon Gold potatoes (cut into bite size chunks)

1 sweet potato (or just use 3 Yukons) (cut into bite sized chunks)

1 turnip (roughly chopped)

2 cups beef stock

1 small bottle red wine (I think it’s 375 ml?) (I prefer a cabernet sauvignon for beef stews)

1 tsp salt (to taste)

2 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp tarragon

Flour (for dusting short ribs)

2 tbsp olive oil (for browning ribs)

In a bowl, toss the short ribs with flour, salt and pepper.  In a large pot, heat oil and brown the short ribs on all sides.   Remove short ribs from pot.   In the remaining oil, saute shallots.  Once they are soft, add the meat back in and add the wine.  Cook over medium heat until the wine is halfway reduced, about 10 minutes.  Add beef stock, thyme, tarragon, carrots, turnips and celery and reduce heat, cooking meat until it is very tender (about 1.5 hours).   Add chopped potatoes and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour, until all vegetables and meat are completely tender.  Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

Browned short ribs and shallots

Browned short ribs and shallots

Pour in the vegetables and herbs for short rib stew

Pour in the vegetables and herbs for short rib stew

Short rib stew

Add the potatoes and cook until tender

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Filed under Beef, Dinner, Recipes, Soups and Stews

Well that didn’t go as planned…

I know that I’m a bit late for the Labor Day BBQ recipes, but I was a little traumatized after my attempt to make peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, only to have them turn out like golden and slightly burned hockey pucks.

I have a baking disaster every once in a while and I guess I was due for one.   I painstakingly put these little babies together, carefully piping some jelly into the batter, topping that with more batter.

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter, pre-topping

I was worried that the oils from the peanut butter might bake quickly, so I took them out a minute before the low-end on the baking range, but to no avail.  Hockey pucks.  Mr. Kitchen said they were still pretty tasty.  That’s why we’re getting married.  Cause he’s got no problem eating my reject cupcakes.  He accepts my occasional baking screw-ups.  This pairs nicely with my usual ability to ignore the fact that his clothes never seem to make it into the hamper.*

Peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

Sad peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

I think maybe I’ve figured out how to amend the recipe to fix the peanut butter oil problem, but it will take more testing and patience than I’ve got time for right now.  Instead, I’m giving you my absolutely no-fail Oh-My-God amazing butterscotch chocolate chunk recipe.

Super yummy and man-o-man is this perfect with a glass of milk.  Speaking of milk, did I mention that Mr. Kitchen’s family used to own a dairy farm? I’m trying to concoct a death-by-dairy recipe in honor of our recent trip to Michigan.  If you’ve got suggestions, let me know.  In the mean-time…. Butterscotch Chocolate Chunks!

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Adapted very heavily from Nick Manglieri’s Modern Baker

(Makes about 12 large cookies)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

10 tbsp softened butter (salted) (about 1 1/4 sticks)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

12 oz chocolate chunks (I tend to over-chunk my cookies, but I love em this way) — Note you can mix dark chocolate, bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate

2 cookie sheets (I like to line mine with foil, but parchment is also an option)

Preheat oven to 350º

Stir flour and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine softened butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla and beat with mixer until just mixed.  Then beat in egg.  Be careful not to over-beat this mixture, which will result in flat cookies.  With a large spatula, stir the flour into the wet mixture.  Add chocolate chunks and gently combine.  Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough on to cookie sheets lined with foil or parchment.  Gently press cookies down.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies have risen a bit and are golden.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Gently mixed dough for Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Giant cookies!

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Sometimes I go ape-shit over this.  Once it’s out of my system, I bake him cookies.

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Filed under Baking, Cookies, Desserts, Party Food, Recipes

Easy Does It

I’m on vacation this week, and we’re headed out to Michigan to visit Mr. Kitchen’s family.  We haven’t seen them since we’ve become engaged so we’re excited to go visit!  Also, I am very excited to not get up and schlep on crowded smelly super hot subways for a week.  I need to escape from the city, or at least work commuting, fairly regularly or else I get twitchy.  Does anyone else living in the city get that?  I’m generally a pretty happy person but every once in a while — generally after weeks of working overtime with no end in sight — I start getting irrationally angry at my commute.  Once I even kicked a subway car.  Guess what? When you do that? The subway car always wins.  I had a bruise on my foot for a few days.

Anyway, back to my vacation and visiting my soon-to-be in-laws.  I’ve never really cooked for my in-laws, but if I were hosting a meal, I would imagine I would serve something like this.  Really, this might be the perfect in-laws over for dinner recipe.  1) It looks impressive 2) It involves crowd-pleaser ingredients (unless your in-laws have nut allergies) 3) It’s pretty easy to make and 4) It’s fairly healthy!

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Makes enough for two breasts — Double for your in-laws!

Stuffing

2 tbsp butter

1/4 onion, diced

1/8 cup almonds, chopped or pulsed in food processor

1 tsp parsley flakes

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Topping

1/4 cup Panko

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (shredded)

1 tsp butter (melted)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

A bit of olive oil, for drizzling.

Preheat oven to 350º

To form pockets in the chicken:  With a very sharp knife, cut from the top (thickest part) of the breast from right to left and top to bottom at approximately a 30 degree angle, so that you’re forming an angled slit throughout the entire length of the chicken.  Make sure that you do not cut all the way through the chicken breast (otherwise you’ll have chicken breast halves).  Start out easy, making a slow, shallow cut.  You can always go back and cut deeper.

The stuffing:  Melt butter in sauce pan and saute onions and peppers.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Allow mixture to cool.  After it has cooled, mix cooked peppers and onions with almonds, egg and Parmesan.  Spoon mixture into chicken pockets.

The topping:  In a bowl, mix together Dijon and melted butter.  Brush some of this over the chicken breasts.  Mix remaining butter/Dijon with panko and Parmesan, and spoon on top of breasts, pressing the topping on gently to set it.  Drizzle tops of chicken breasts with a bit of olive oil.   Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Diced onions and peppers

Diced onions and peppers

Sauteed onions and peppers

Sauteed onions and peppers

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffing the chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffed chicken breasts

Pre-bake Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Pre-bake Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

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Filed under Chicken, Dinner, Recipes

Lighten Up

As you may have noticed by the photos that accompany the recipes I’ve posted, I cook (and inevitably eat) everything that’s included on the blog.  So, while all the stick to your ribs food I’ve been posting has been an absolute joy to make and eat, my Wii Fit Mii has been looking pretty shameful lately.  Yes, that’s right, I’m being shamed by the Wii Fit.  My Mii has been looking pretty dejected this week and the game system keeps playing that “doh doh doh doh” “you lose” music, so I’m thinking this is a bad sign.  Everything in moderation right?  So next up is a delightful, light and actually good for you Herb Crusted Salmon.

Herb Crusted Salmon.  Is it just me or does that just automatically sound just a bit more sophisticated than your average mid-week meal?  Luckily, this recipe is incredibly easy and takes less than 20 minutes total to prepare.

herb crusted salmon with white asparagus drizzled with a balsamic parmesan vinaigrette

I paired the salmon with a white asparagus drizzled with a balsamic parmesan vinaigrette and dinner rolls

Herb Crusted Salmon

2 Salmon steaks (approx 3/4 lb)

2 tsp basil

2 tsp thyme

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp rosemary

2 tsp flour

pinch salt

pinch pepper

pinch tarragon

Olive oil to drizzle on salmon

Pre-heat oven to 400º

Rinse salmon fillets.  In a bowl, mix the herbs together in along with flour.   Cover a jelly roll pan with foil.  Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on fillets, enough to just coat the top surface of the fillet.  Dip fillets oil-covered surface down into mixture of herbs, pressing gently to coat the surface.  Place fillets on pan.  Drizzle again with a bit of olive oil.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes.

White Asparagus with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Parmesan

Half a bunch of white asparagus, rinsed

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp salt

pinch pepper

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (shaved)

Rinse and trim asparagus.  In a shallow pot, blanch asparagus spears over medium-high heat for approximately 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  In a bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and dijon.  Drizzle or toss with asparagus.  Top asparagus with Parmesan.

Pre-cooked salmon topped with herbs

Raw salmon topped with herbs

Mixing the white asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette

Mixing the white asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette

Herb crusted salmon with white asparagus drizzled with Balsamic vinaigrette and Parmesan

Herb crusted salmon with white asparagus drizzled with Balsamic vinaigrette and Parmesan

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Filed under Dinner, Fish, Recipes, Tidbits

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I mentioned last week that I am dying for fall to begin.  It coincides with all my favorite things — the weather finally turning from ungodly to tolerable and then downright pleasant, the return of hearty recipes, sweaters, school supplies and football.  I love football.  I’m one of those crazy people who yells and screams at the TV during games, because in my sports-induced insanity, I think the players can actually hear me.  (I’m looking at you Manning.)   Mr. Kitchen and I started getting serious right around the start of football season,  and he says he was really pleasantly surprised when he found out I was a fan of the game.  He gets a kick out of my insane TV ranting.  So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to game-time snacks, I’ve got em covered.  Trust me, even if you hate the game, if you’re dating a sports-guy, you’re gonna end up at  at least one game.  You’re likely going to a Super Bowl party if nothing else.   Make these, and you are insta-Sports Girlfriend Goddess.

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Makes 2 thin loaves

I am including a recipe for the dough that has been adapted slightly from Nick Malgieri’s “The Modern Baker,”  but if you are short on time, most supermarkets carry pizza dough.  (Pillsbury makes a dough if you’re really short on time.)

Bread Dough

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt**

2  1/2 teaspoons active yeast (one packet)

1  2/3 cups warm water

3 tbsp oil  (olive is best, but vegetable will do)

Additional oil for coating the pan

Filling

3/4 lb very thinly sliced pepperoni

3/4 lb very thinly sliced provolone

Additional

* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese optional (shredded) for top of bread

1 Egg, beaten for wash

** The recipe would normally call for 2 teaspoons salt, but I find that the pepperoni is salty enough on its own to balance out the bread, especially if you’re topping the bread with Parmesan.

The Dough — Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir well to mix.  In a separate bowl, whisk the yeast into the water and whisk in the oil.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour liquid into center.  With a spatula, begin stirring in the center of the bowl, gradually stirring from the center outward, incorporating more and more flour as you go.  Once the flour is totally incorporated, the dough will still be very soft.  Knead the dough very lightly, by folding the outside edges into the center — keep folding until there are no dry bits left.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk (generally 1-2 hours depending on the air temperature).  Lightly oil your hands and turn the dough over once.  Cover again and let rise, approximately one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 º.

The Roll — Once the pizza dough is prepared, roll out half the dough flat into a rectangle approximately 18 inches wide and 12 inches long.   Lay out slices of provolone in one layer across surface of dough.  Layer pepperoni slices on top of provolone.  Starting at the top of the dough, roll edges downward horizontally so that dough forms a roll.  Press down on seam and twist ends to seal dough.  Place the roll on a tin-foil lined cookie sheet in a U-shape, seam-side down.   Repeat rolling, layering provolone and pepperoni and sealing for remainder of dough.   At this point, you can sprinkle shredded Parmesan on top of rolls and press cheese gently into dough.  Brush egg wash across entire top surface of each roll.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until dough is golden.  Let cool on pan for 15 minutes, then slice into 1″ wide slices.

Pepperoni provolone bread

Dough rolled out for Pepperoni provolone bread

Pepperoni provolone bread

Layer the cheese then the pepperoni for Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Rolling the dough for the Pepperoni Provolone Bread -- I ran out of provolone in the second loaf, but you can easily mix in some mozzarella.

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Brushing the egg wash on the Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

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Filed under Appetizers, Baking, Party Food, Recipes

The Everything Good Cookie — Love at First Bite

Mr. Kitchen and I may be hazy about the first meal I ever made for him, but we’re definitely in agreement on the first thing I baked for him:  Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  I made these shortly after Mr. Kitchen and I first started dating.   These beautiful drop cookies are also known in our household as The Everything Good Cookie because they are a mixture of everything heavenly on Earth — peanut butter, steel cut oats, chunks of semi-sweet chocolate and sometimes, when I’m feeling frisky — walnuts or pecans.  Mr. Kitchen swore he heard the Seraphim after eating just one bite.  I knew I had him then.   I don’t bake them all that often — their yummy potency can be overwhelming (for the waistline) but when Mr. Kitchen has done something super awesome, I break out the recipe.   (Oh who am I kidding — I bake these when I’m PMSing too.)  I can’t remember where I saw the basis for this recipe, which I’m sure was a peanut butter cookie, but I just kept adding things until the dough literally couldn’t take anymore ingredients without totally falling apart.

I also think these are the perfect fall cookie and, maybe it’s a result of the super hot summer we’ve had in New York this year, but I’ve been craving the fall like nobody else.  I’ve taken to cooking those stick-to-your ribs type casseroles too in the irrational hopes that it will bring a change in the season.  (More on those next time.)  This is what happens to me in August in New York.  I go a little batty.  August also makes me want to buy school supplies, even though I’ve been out of school for nearly a decade.  Go figure.

Now, like I said — this recipe — the force is strong with this one.  Use sparingly, unless you want yourself a stalker.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 12 fairly large cookies

3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats (steel cut oats)

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 stick salted butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 large egg

Approx 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (the amount really depends on how much you like chocolate)

* Optional — 3/8 cup nuts (walnuts work well)

In a food processor (or a blender), pulse 1/2 cup oats.  In a large bowl, mix together whole oats, ground oats, flour, baking powder and baking soda.  In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy, then add vanilla and peanut butter.  Mix well.  Add egg and beat well.  Add in flour mixture and beat well.  Add in chocolate chunks and nuts (if adding) and gently mix together.  Chill cookie dough at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325º  Drop large spoonfuls (think the size of a medium meatball) of cookie mix onto foiled cookie sheet (ungreased is fine) and gently press down on cookies to flatten slightly.  Cookies should be placed 1.5-2″ apart if possible.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  **I’ve found that these cookies are best when just the bottom is golden brown.

These are amazing fresh out of the oven with a scoopful of vanilla ice cream on top.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The peanut butter mixture gooeyness

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The dough -- try to resist eating this raw!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Drop the dough, flatten slightly

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Filed under Baking, Cookies, Desserts, Recipes