Sunday, September 28, 2014

Kitchen Vocabulary 2: Terms and Procedures

Here is a list of terms and procedures frequently used in the kitchen that you will likely find on this blog that you may or may not be familiar with:

What does that even mean?

There are many variations of abbreviations used for measurements in cooking. Just so there's no confusion, here is a list of abbreviations I use here on my blog:

  • t = teaspoon
  • T = tablespoon
  • c = cup

Kitchen Vocabulary: Gadgets

I use all kinds of fun kitchen gadgets when cooking, and some of them you might not be familiar with. So, here's a list of gadgets you would find in my kitchen that I find incredibly useful!

*Also check out Better Homes and Gardens' "Glossary of Cooking Terms" for an extensive list of kitchen vocabulary.

Quinoa with Chicken & Broccoli

This is a recipe my sister developed when her husband began eating a strict Paleo diet and working out. In less than a year, he dropped 60 pounds while still eating delicious, filling meals like this one. It's quick, easy, and so healthy. If you've never used quinoa in place of rice or pasta, you've got to try this recipe. You might never go back!

What you'll need:

  • 4 medium chicken breasts
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1/4 lb. baby portobello mushrooms, diced
  • 1 lb. fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 c quinoa
  • 4 c water
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t freshly ground coriander
  • 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T butter (or olive oil, if you're not human and don't like butter)
How to make it:
  • Rinse quinoa in cold water
  • Boil water then add quinoa, half of the butter, salt, pepper, and coriander; cover and simmer over low heat, approximately 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit until ready to serve. 
  • Melt the other half of the butter over medium heat
  • Add onions and mushrooms to melted butter, cook approximately eight minutes (occasionally move onions and mushrooms around in the pan to keep from burning)
  • Remove onions and mushrooms from pan and set aside
  • Without cleaning the pan, season chicken breasts with remaining salt, pepper, and coriander and add them to the pan, cook approximately eight minutes over medium-high heat on each side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Season broccoli with salt and pepper to taste, and steam in a steamer basket approximately eight minutes
  • Layer quinoa, broccoli, chicken, and top with sautéed onions and mushrooms
  • Serve hot!
Quinoa with Chicken & Steamed Broccoli

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thyme for Chicken Pot Pie

I invented this recipe as a spin-off of Wolfgang Puck's Classic Chicken Pot Pie. His recipe is fantastic and indescribably delicious, but it is also labor-intensive and time consuming. One fall evening after work, I wanted the same flavors but didn't have the time required, and so Thyme for Chicken Pot Pie was born.

What you'll need:
I forgot to take a pic,
so let's pretend this is my chicken pot pie
and not Wolfgang Puck's. 
  • 1 large chicken breast, cooked (from Baked Brined Chicken, if you have it.) Remove meat from bone and pull apart.
  • Pan drippings from Baked Brined chicken (If you did not keep the pan drippings use 2 T butter and 2 T olive oil instead.)
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 c chicken stalk
  • ¼ c heavy cream
  • 2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls dough
  • Salt and pepper to taste
How to make it:

Preparing the crust:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Roll out each piece of crescent dough so you can get a six inch circle and a three inch circle out of each piece of dough.  
  • Spray a muffin pan (12 muffins) with nonstick spray.  
  • Place the six inch dough circles inside of each muffin cup leaving just a little hanging over the edges.  Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and place the three inch dough circles on the sheet.  These will be the tops to your pot pies.  
  • Place prepared muffin pan and cookie sheet in the oven. After five minutes remove the cookie sheet from the oven.  
  • Allow the muffin pan to remain for another five minutes. 
  • Remove the muffin pan and press down the centers and sides of the mini pie shells.  Allow to cool.  FYI: these are rustic!  They look really silly, but taste wonderful!  
  • Place a skillet over medium-high heat and add drippings (or butter and olive oil.)  
  • Once it this is melted completely add the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic, about five minutes.  
  • Add flour and stir in thoroughly.  
  • Once flour is well combined begin slowly adding chicken stock stirring the entire time to prevent lumps.  
  • Next add heavy cream and stir until combined.  
  • Add thyme and salt and pepper to taste and allow mixture to come to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  
  • Turn off heat and add pulled chicken. Combine thoroughly.  
  • Let stand for 20 minutes to thicken.  
  • Remove pie shells from pan.  
  • Generously fill each pie shell with the filling.  
  • Place a circle top over each filled pie shell.  Enjoy!
Yields 4-6 servings!

Change it up:
  • Add ½ cup sliced mushrooms and ¼ cup frozen green peas when you add the veggies to the skillet.
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the dough before you roll it out, then roll the cheese into the dough.
  • For a quicker dinner, use frozen pie shells instead of making your own mini shells. 

Baked Brined Chicken

My favorite thing about this recipe, besides the flavor, is that it's a great prep-ahead meal. You can prep the chicken the night before and forget about it for 12 hours or so. Then 45 minutes before dinner, sear it in a pan, throw it in the oven, and you've got seriously flavorful chicken for dinner. Try it with Raw Brussels Sprouts as a quick, easy, delicious, and healthy side dish.  
Once again, I forgot my camera.
I borrowed a similar-looking
but much prettier pic from Tori-Avery.
I'm sure she wouldn't mind.

What you'll need: (for the chicken)
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 T butter
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
What you'll need: (for the brine)
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 c salt
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 T fennel seeds
  • 1 T pepper corns
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
* Combine the brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Once the brine is completely cooled place the chicken pieces into the brine, cover, and refrigerate for at least four hours.  Eight would be better or even over night.

How to make it:

Butchering the chicken – remove the back bone.  Leaving the skin on and the meat attached to the bones cut away both breasts, wings, and leaving the leg and thigh connected, cut those away as well.  You should have six pieces total.  Discard the wings or freeze for later.
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the brine and pat dry. (Discard the brine.) 
  • Liberally season both sides of each piece of chicken with salt and pepper. 
  • In two separate skillets (so as not to crowd the chicken, and causing it to boil rather than brown) add half of the olive oil and half of the butter. Set stove to medium-high. When the butter is melted place the chicken skin side down into the skillet. 
  • Let the chicken cook for 4-5 minutes then flip it over allowing it to cook on the second side for an additional 4-5 minutes. 
  • Lightly butter a sheet pan and scatter celery and carrots evenly around the pan. Place the chicken pieces skin side up on top of the celery and carrots. Poor the pan drippings over the top of the chicken pieces. 
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. During the last five minutes, remove the aluminum foil for crispier skin. Remove chicken from oven. Leave it covered and let stand for 5-10 minutes.  Enjoy!
Yields 4-6 servings!   

Change it up:
  • After brining but before putting then chicken in the pan to sear, remove the skin. Dredge the chicken pieces in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Then follow the rest of the directions as written. 
  • If you like spice, add one tablespoon of red pepper flakes to the brine and hot sauce to the olive oil and butter.
  • Pour only half of the pan drippings over the chicken.  Heat up the other half and add two tablespoons of flour and combine thoroughly.  Then add one cup of milk and one cup of chicken stock making sure to whisk quickly and continually to prevent lumps.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and you have the perfect gravy!   
*** Keep the pan drippings and leftover chicken for the recipe “Thyme for Chicken Pot Pie!”

Don't Knock It 'Til You Try It!

Raw Brussels Sprouts. Yep, that's what I'm suggesting you eat. Believe it or not, they're delicious! I normally half them, throw them in a pan with salt, pepper, olive oil, onions, garlic, and some good ol' bacon. Then I bake them high and fast, finish them with a squeeze of lemon juice, and they're great! Well, one day I had them in the pan with just olive oil, salt and pepper, getting ready to add the other ingredients and thought, "What the heck?" And I ate one raw, and couldn't believe how good they were! So here's my new recipe for Raw Brussels Sprouts.

What you'll need:

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels Sprouts, quartered (trim the ends first)
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from one large lemon
  • 1/2 t. Sriracha (any pepper sauce you like will do)
  • 1 t. salt (better make it a rounded teaspoon)
  • 1/2 t. ground black pepper
How to make it:
  • In a bowl with a lid, combine all of the ingredients, except the sprouts. Whisk them until they become a homogeneous mixture. 
  • Throw in the sprouts, put on the lid and shake it like a Polaroid picture. (The container, I mean. Or whatever you feel like shaking.)
  • Serve 'em up! Couldn't be easier! (The longer they sit in the dressing, the better they taste!)
Raw Brussels Sprouts

Pan-seared Brussels Sprouts

Now, if you still can't get past the fact that they're raw, cook them! I actually ate them both ways with the same dressing. After I cooked a chicken breast for dinner, I left the drippings in the pan and tossed in the remaining Brussels Sprouts. They were delicious! I ate the leftovers for lunch today, and I think they were even better the second day! Just try them. You'll like them.  


Turkey Avocado Burgers

I'm (sadly) no fan of hamburgers. Suffice it to say, I had a bad experience as a kid. Since this is a food blog, I won't go into details. 

As an adult, I've always felt cheated. Burgers are cookouts, and birthday parties, and summertime, and so many lovely things that I'm too traumatized to enjoy. So, I found a work-around: The Turkey Avocado Burger. 

What you'll need:
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey (85/15)
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. ground corriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 5 hamburger buns (something a little fancy)
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 10 (thin) slices gruyere cheese (1" x 2" slices)
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1 large tomato
  • mayonnaise (optional)
  • butter (NOT optional)
How to make it:
  • Combine all ingredients, except the butter. Mix well, but don't over-mix!*
  • Make five (large) patties, and place on a hot griddle. [Each patty will be approx. 6.5 oz. and will be "loose." Eew. I know.]
  • Cook for 5-10 minutes on each side until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. (Only flip ONCE!)
  • During the last minute of cooking, place 2 slices of cheese on each burger. Remove from griddle when cheese is melted.
  • Butter the insides of the buns and lay them butter side down on the griddle; 20-30 seconds should do the trick.
  • Spread a thin layer of mayo on top and bottom of bun so everything stays in place.
  • Place patties on buns; top with avocado, lettuce, and tomato.
  • Serve hot!
*Over-mixing leads to tough burgers. Gross.