Guys, I think I have another food obsession. Everyone (everyone who regularly reads this blog, that is) knows that I’m obsessed with chicken. And eggs. Duh.
But after searching through my recipes, there are a lot that involve squash. Zucchini. Butternut. Acorn. And like this risotto, pumpkin. If you asked me when I was a kid – heck, if you asked me 5 years ago – I would have said that I didn’t like squash in any form. It was squishy and gross and bland. Oh, how naive I was. Squash is nothing like that. It’s sweet and rich and earthy. And crazy versatile.
Which brings me to pumpkin. Most people are used to seeing squashes in all kind of dishes this time of year, but pumpkin still seems to be something we just carve up or bake into a pie. Seasonal lattes aside, there’s more to pumpkin than just that. And risotto, with it’s creamy, fluffy rice, is the perfect base for this autumnal flavor. And please don’t get put off by the somewhat laborious process of making risotto. It’s worth it in the end, I promise. Would this squash fanatic lie to you?
Maple Pumpkin Risotto
2 cups of apple juice or cider
3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 ½ cups of diced leeks
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 cups of Arborio rice
1 cup of white wine
1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
3 tablespoon of maple syrup
2 tablespoon of grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Salt & pepper
4 slices of maple-glazed bacon, cooked & crumbled (optional)
In a medium sauce pan, combine the apple juice and stock and warm over low heat.
Heat the butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until soft and slightly caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and wine, and cook until the wine has been absorbed.
Next, add ½ cup of the juice/broth mixture to the rice and stir frequently. When fully absorbed, add another ½ cup of the mixture. Repeat this process until all of the juice/broth mixture has been absorbed into the rice, or until the rice is al dente. The rice should nearly double in size, so use that as a gauge, too.
Stir in the pumpkin puree, maple syrup and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Plate, garnish with extra Parmesan (and bacon), and eat.
(*Also, I realize putting maple-glazed bacon on this doesn’t make it meatless. But I’m not saying you HAVE to put it on there. But I am telling you it tastes pretty good if you do.)
Well, well, well. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it folks? Over a month if my calendar is correct.
Sidebar: Is anyone else in shock that it’s already November? 2013 has flown by. And yet, still no hover boards or flying cars. Sigh.
Luckily, I can take comfort in one of the most comforting dishes ever created – chicken pot pie. While I’m a fan of flaky pie crust surrounding a warm, saucy mixture of chicken and vegetables, I’m not a fan of making flaky pie crusts. That’s something this aspiring baker needs to work on. It would help if I actually liked fruit pies (which I don’t), but that’s a story for a different day.
But even without a pie crust, you can get the same comforting meal on your plate. Much like a crisp, this version of chicken pot pie has a crumbly topping, which takes almost no time at all to make and even has a little kick of cayenne pepper to keep things interesting. This recipe might seem like it has a lot of steps (it kinda does), but you’re basically using the same pot over and over again. Makes for easy clean up, right? And it’s also simple enough that you can enjoy this comforting meal on a weeknight. Because sometimes (many times) you need comforting on a Monday to get you through the week.
Chicken Pot Pie with Crumble Topping
For the filling:
1 ½ to 2 lbs of boneless chicken breasts
3 cups of chicken broth
1 small onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
8 oz of mushrooms, diced
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
4 tablespoons (½ stick) of butter
½ cup of flour
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup of frozen peas
For the topping:
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons of butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and chilled
½ cup of grated Parmesan
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
Bring the chicken breasts and chicken broth to a simmer in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until chicken is done, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl and reserve. Don’t rinse Dutch oven.
Heat your oven to 450º.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add butter cubes, and using fingers, rub butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse corn meal. Stir in the Parmesan, and then mix in the cream until combined. Crumble mixture onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light browned and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. While veggies are cooking, cut chicken breasts into small cubes. Add cooked veggies to the same bowl as the chicken.
Heat another tablespoon of oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until juices are released, about 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and tomato paste, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, mushrooms are well browned and a dark fond begins to form on the surface of the pan, about 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with the chicken and veggies.
Heat the butter in the Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and the reserved chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom to loosen the browned bits and then cook until the sauce thickens and can coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Then mix in the chicken, cooked veggies and peas.
Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish (or several individual pie dishes) and top with an even layer of the crumbled topping. Bake until bubbling and topping is browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly and then eat.
You probably don’t think prosciutto can come from Serbia. At least I didn’t before a few weeks ago. But silly me, it does. And my friend Boris (who’s Serbian) was nice enough to bring me back some from his recent trip home. He promised it would be different from the Italian stuff: meatier, smokier, not as dry. Which, come to think of it, is a lot like Boris.
Of course you don’t need Serbian prosciutto for this dish, but it would be a great touch. Just be careful slicing your zucchini so that it’s not too thin. Then it might be too delicate to roll after sautéing. And while Serbian prosciutto isn’t a must-have, please don’t use some boring jarred tomato sauce. Making your own is so, so much better.
2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8-inch thick lengthwise
6 to 8 slices of prosciutto
8 oz of fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1 bunch of basil leaves
1 ½ to 2 cups of tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
8×8 baking dish, or similar
Heat your oven to 425º.
Season the zucchini slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini in batches and cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.
Top each zucchini slice with a piece of prosciutto cut to fit, a slice (or two) of mozzarella cut to fit and 1 basil leaf. Carefully roll each stack into a pinwheel and secure with a toothpick. Place the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and then place each rollatini side by side in the dish. (You can remove the toothpicks at this point, or wait until after baking.)
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling. Plate and then eat.
I’ve been really busy the last handful of weekends. So busy, that I haven’t had time to enjoy a lazy Sunday at home. And as most of you probably know by now, that means loafing on the couch, and making something great for supper. Taking advantage of a cool-ish late summer day, I decided to cook some meat. I wanted one of those Sundays where the house smelled of simmering beef, with that gentle bubbling sound coming from the stove, and the feeling that in a just few hours your belly would be full and happy. That’s not asking a lot, now is it?
What I love about this recipe is that it puts a Mexican spin on a traditional pot roast. Onions, tomatoes and chipotle peppers gave the beef so much flavor. And after nearly 3 hours of cooking, it was so fork-tender, it shredded beautifully. So beautifully that the only way to really enjoy it was in a taco, so I could gaze upon it’s lovely texture while stuffing it into my mouth. Now doesn’t that paint a pretty picture?
The slaw is pretty rockin’ too. The lime juice gives it a zesty bite, and went really well with the jalapeño-lime refried beans. For another twist, you could fry a tortilla, spread a layer of beans, then stack it with beef and slaw, turning it into a tasty tostada.
Shredded Chipotle Beef Tacos with Creamy Lime Slaw
For the tacos:
3 lb boneless beef chuck roast
1 large onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
3 to 4 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
1 tablespoon of adobo sauce
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of chili powder
½ bunch of cilantro
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
A few slices of fresh avocado, for garnish
For the slaw:
1 cup of shredded white cabbage
1 carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons of sour cream
2 tablespoons of lime juice
Drizzle the beef with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven on medium-high heat. When hot, sear the beef until browned on all sides. Add the onion and garlic and let cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, spices and cilantro plus 2 cups of water (the beef should be completely covered). Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 ½ to 3 hours until fork tender.
While the beef cooks, mix the cabbage, carrot, sour cream and lime juice in a medium bowl. Season to taste with garlic salt and pepper. Cover and let chill for at least 1 hour.
Remove the beef from the pot and shred using two forks. Strain the cooking liquid into a large bowl, reserving 1 cup of liquid; discard the rest. Add the shredded beef and liquid to a skillet, along with the red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.
To make the tacos, heat the tortillas and then add a layer of shredded beef, top with some slaw and garnish with a few pieces of avocado. Then eat.
No no, I don’t mean lima beans. Although I have nothing against those. I’m talking lime. And also jalapeño. Which is such a tasty combination, made even tastier mashed with cannellini beans.
Storytime: Refried beans used to gross me out as a kid. I never understood how or why they were fried, and then fried again. Who would do such a thing? They also kinda looked like dog food to me. Or what I perceived as dog food because we didn’t have a dog. But then one time, somewhere, I actually tasted them. Mmm, creamy and spicy. And I loved them. Now, a Mexican dish doesn’t seem complete without a side of refried beans. Later on I did some research into the name, and found out that it’s a mistranslation. It’s not re-fried. It’s actually closer to well-fried. So there you go. And here’s an easy recipe for jalapeño-lime well-fried beans.
Jalepeño-Lime Refried Beans
½ small yellow onion, decided
1 jalapeño, finely diced
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 15.5oz can of cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of lime juice, or more depending on taste
Jalapeño hot sauce
Salt and pepper
A few sprigs of cilantro, for garnish
In a cast iron skillet, heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the jalepeño, garlic and cumin, and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add the beans, 4 tablespoons of water and season with salt and pepper. Cook on low until beans are soft and liquid has mostly been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, add the butter and mash the beans until they’re the consistency you prefer. Stir in the lime juice and hot sauce to taste. Garnish with cilantro, and then eat.
Remember those breakfast cereal commercials from the 80s? Anyone who sat around in their pajamas in the wee hours of Saturday morning should know what I’m talking about. The announcer would always say: Part of a complete breakfast! And they they’d cut to a plate of toast and some random fruit next to the bowl of Frosted Flakes or Trix, as if eating bread and real fruit made the cereal better for you.
That story doesn’t really have anything to do with these mini muffins, because they don’t have cereal (although watch out of a future recipe that does). But they could be considered a complete breakfast. You’ve got your bananas, always a morning-time staple. You’ve got everyone’s favorite breakfast meat, bacon. And you’ve got chocolate for good measure. (Also cinnamon for that cozy kick.)
But here’s the real question:
Are these breakfast muffins masquerading as decadent little treats, or decadent little treats pretending to be — and doing a darn good job of it — breakfast food? I’ll let you decide.
Chocolate Banana Bacon Mini Muffins
2 ½ cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup of milk chocolate chips
6 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled
Maple Sugar Camp Mix
Heat your oven to 400º.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture a little at a time until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Beat in the mashed bananas, and then stir in the chocolate chips and crumbled bacon. (Or: If you want non-bacon eaters to enjoy them, divide the batter in half and only put bacon in some of it.)
Lightly grease a mini muffin pan and then spoon batter 3/4 of the way into each cup. Sprinkle each with Maple Sugar Camp Mix, and then bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned. Let them cool completely in the muffin pan. Then remove muffins and enjoy.
We can all be little cheesy now and then, right? Right? Just say yes and agree with me and this will go a lot smoother. Probably as smooth as melted cheese. And just as creamy.
Wait, what are we talking about? Oh right. Cheese. As in smooth and creamy chile con queso.
But you know what we’re not talking about? That over-processed brick of “cheese” in that yellow box. If you want to use that stuff, fine by me. You’re just not going to find it here. Real cheese, both cheddar and Monterey Jack, and can be melted and chile’d up just as well as that fake stuff.
Wait, it’s even better than that stuff. No comparison whatsoever.
Chile con Queso
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ of a small yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chilies, drained
8 oz of cheddar, shredded
8 oz of Monterey Jack, shredded
½ cup of sour cream
Salt and pepper
Tortilla chips (Scoops preferred)
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and jalapeno, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, about 3 minutes. Next, stir in the diced tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese a little at a time until melted. Stir in the sour cream, season to taste with salt and pepper, and continue cooking until the sauce is smooth and creamy and the consistency you prefer. Transfer to a bowl and serve with tortilla chips.
Now, don’t go thinking that I’m putting my egg-making skills down today. Because I’m not. It’s crumby, not crummy. Crumby as in crumbs. Crumby as in, “Oh, these fried tortilla crumbs certainly add a lot of texture and flavor to these scrambled eggs.”
What? You’ve never mixed fried tortillas into your scrambled eggs? Then you, my friend, have never had migas, a popular breakfast dish found throughout Texas. Migas translates to crumbs (see!) and the crumbs give the eggs a crunchy texture. You can by all means take the lazy way out and use store-bought tortilla chips. But where is the fun in that? Wouldn’t you rather gently fry your own corn tortilla strips in a nice hot skillet? Then you can season them up with anything you like. There’s nothing crummy about that whatsoever.
Migas, aka Tex-Mex Scrambled Eggs
For the fried tortillas strips:
6 corn tortillas
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
For the eggs:
½ yellow onion, diced
1 large jalapeno, diced
2 tablespoons of milk
1/4 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 plum tomato, diced
Jalapeno (or habanero) hot sauce
Salt and pepper
Cut the corn tortilla into ½ inch strips. Add the oil to a large cast iron skillet and heat on medium-high. Working in batches, add the tortilla strips and lightly fry on both sides until golden brown. Place on a paper towel-lined plate and lightly season with sea salt.
Drain some of the oil from the skillet, lower the heat to medium-low and add the onions and jalapeno. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. In a bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs and milk, and season to taste salt and pepper plus a few dashes of hot sauce. Add the eggs to the skillet and cook, constantly stirring, until the eggs are the consistency you prefer. Stir in the cheese, and then about 6 strips of torn fried tortillas, and cook for 1 minute until the cheese is melted and the tortilla pieces are slightly soft. Off the heat, stir in the diced tomato. Plate the eggs, garnish with extra tortilla strips and salsa, and eat.
Get this: It appears that I haven’t posted a chicken recipe in 4 months. For this chicken-obsessed cook, that’s a really (really) long time. Not that I haven’t been making chicken. Oh, because I have. I think I just felt that I was inundating everyone with too many chicken recipes. Although, as I’ve said before—you can never have too many chicken recipes. It’s true. Look it up. Go on, I’ll wait. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying some grilled chicken thighs. Mmm. They’re so tasty, thanks to an Asian-inspired marinade that’s both salty and citrusy.
Citrus Marinated Chicken Thighs
4 to 6 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon of lime zest
1/4 cup of lime juice
1 teaspoon of orange juice
1/4 cup of orange juice
1 bunch of scallions, diced
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
In a food processor or blender, combine the soy sauce, vegetable oil, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, orange zest, orange juice, scallions, salt and pepper. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the marinade and pour the rest into a large Ziploc bag. Add the chicken thighs, seal and gently toss so the chicken is covered with the marinade. Chill at least 30 minutes.
Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs and grill until cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Let rest a few minutes, top with reserved marinade, and eat.