I am tired of you. It seems that every time I try to send you pretty pictures from my phone, you completely freak out and kill yourself. You are buggy and undependable, and I am tired of your shenanigans. So I’m leaving you. Future posts will go to blogger.

I’m sorry, but you don’t deserve my love anymore.

Call me when you’ve grown up enough to handle me.

Slugs and fishes,

The Cookymunchkin

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Last night, I was stuck in a stairwell at work, waiting for a tornado to rip the roof off the building.

So instead of cowering in a corner and crying, I decided to be a bit more constructive with my time…  So here is a recipe for a little something I whipped up that morning.  And let me tell you, it was GOOD.

Vegetable Couscous

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1-3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • A handful of golden raisins
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp Garam masala
  • 1-2 tbsp cardamom
  • 1/4 c white wine or vodka
  • Salt, pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup couscous, uncooked
  • 2 c vegetable stock
  • zest and juice from 1 orange

Directions:

  1. Sauté onion, garlic, and other chopped vegetables in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add garbanzos, tomatoes, tomato paste, raisins, and spices.
  3. Add alcoholic beverage of your choice.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the orange juice.
  6. In another cooking vessel, boil vegetable stock. If you want to get all fancypants, you can even add a small pinch of saffron… Add a bit of olive oil, then add couscous. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.
  7. Serve veggies over couscous.
  8. Garnish with orange zest.
  9. And feel the Yum.

(If you would like a more traditional recipe for 7 vegetable couscous, you can find it HERE.)

In the spirit of trying to lose that last 20 lbs. or so of stubborn belly fat from the holidays, let’s make something healthy today!  Sort of!  In a faux-healthy, Japanese way, at least…

Today we will be making a lovely seared teriyaki tuna steak and serving it over a salad that is dressed with a sesame-ginger vinaigrette.  And to keep it super classy, we’re even adding pineapples!  Yeah!

So here is what you need:

For the tuna steaks:

  • 2-4 tuna steaks (You can cut them in half if the steaks are huge.)
  • 1 small can pineapple rings, drained
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs mirin
  • 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • OPTIONAL:  1-2 Tbs sake

For the salad:

  • Bag-O-Salad, and/or salad mixture of your choice
  • 4 Tbs. canola oil
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger, or 1 tsp dried ground ginger (ginger keeps in the freezer really, REALLY well…)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar

Directions – tuna:

  1. Mix together the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake.
  2. Marinate the tuna steaks for at least an hour.
  3. Remove the tuna from the marinade, and reserve the marinade.
  4. In an oiled skillet over medium-high heat, sear the tuna, about 2 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove the tuna when done, and add pineapple rings to the pan.
  6. Pour in the rest of the marinade, and reduce.
  7. Turn over pineapples to caramelize each side.  Yum!

Directions – salad:

  1. Mix together the salad dressing ingredients listed above.  Whisk or shake well to emulsify.
  2. Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss.
  3. Divide into individual servings.
  4. Top with tuna and pineapple rings.
  5. Drizzle with leftover marinade from pan.
  6. Enjoy!

So I was checking out some of the cooking websites the other day, and I got inspired to make Shepherd’s Pie.  This is a combination of at least three recipes, so don’t ask me where any of this came from.  Your basic elements for a shepherd’s pie are:  1 lb meat, 4 cups veggies, a cup of liquid (including gravy), and 2 cups of mashed potatoes for the crust.  After that, you can pretty much make it your own.  And I did!

On to the recipe…

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups potatoes (can use instant, but this should be about 2-4 potatoes), roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh, or 1 tsp dried rosemary (If using fresh rosemary, chop it up finely.)
  • ½ cup milk, ¾ cup sour cream, or 4 oz (light) cream cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1 lb ground meat of your choice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cups frozen mixed veggies
  • ¾ cup beef or chicken broth OR 1 cup beef gravy
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (de-stemmed), or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Paprika for sprinkling
  • 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • OPTIONAL:  sliced mushrooms
  • OPTIONAL:  ½ cup red or white wine


DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat your oven to 375.
  • Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, sauté 2 cloves garlic and 1-2 chopped sprigfuls of rosemary in butter.

  • Drain potatoes.  Add dairy products of your choice and butter mixture.

  • Mash the potatoes, and set aside.

  • Brown meat, 1-2 cloves garlic, and onions.  Drain meat.
  • Add veggies and cook until they are thawed.

  • If you are using wine, add wine and reduce for a few minutes.
  • Add broth or beef gravy.

  • Add the rest of the herbs and spices, along with the ketchup/tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.  Stir well.  Cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Spoon meat mixture into a casserole dish.  Cover with potatoes.

  • Bake for 15-18 minutes.
  • Add cheese to the top of the casserole, sprinkle with paprika, and bake for 2-5 minutes more (or until the cheese melts.)


Makes 6-8 servings

Enjoy!

Last weekend, The JohnnyCakes and I went outlet mall shopping.  And he made the mistake of letting me go into the Le Creuset store…

And after some heavy wheeling, dealing, and discounting, I left the store with THIS:

Squee!!!!

 

So for my inaugural dish in this puppy, I knew I had to do something extra super special and yumtastically tasty!

So, what could I cook that required a huge pan and was a huge pain in the butt to make…???

Arroz Con Pollo!

Yay!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1- 3 1/2-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or 3 1/2 lbs chicken parts of your choosing)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes.  (Yes, mine is in a packet from a pizza place.  What, you don’t collect these too?  Why not?)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white wine*
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth*
  • 3/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped

*The liquid in this dish should total 3 cups.  So you can use 3 cups chicken broth, or alter the quantities of wine and broth to total 3 cups.  One recipe I saw even used beer for the liquid part!  So the choice is yours…

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • Rinse your chicken really, really well.
  • If necessary, cut up your whole chicken into 8 pieces….  Oh, you don’t know how?  Well here’s a video just for you!

Now, wasn’t that easy?

  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the olive oil in the pan, and add the chicken.

  • Cook the chicken until it is golden brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes total.

Your chicken should be browner than this. Just remember that it's not going to get any browner in the oven, and cook accordingly.

  • When the chicken is browned to your liking, transfer it to a plate for later.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper to the pan.

  • Reduce heat to medium and saute for about 5 minutes.
  • Add paprika and wine.  Boil for 2 minutes.

  • Add saffron and rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

  • Stir in the broth, white pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, and oregano and bring to a simmer.

  • Return the chicken and any juices to the pan.

Your chicken should probably be browner than mine, but after 45 minutes in the oven, it will no longer be hazardous to your health. I promise!

  • Cover the pan, put in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, remove from the oven, and stir in the tomatoes, olives, and frozen peas.  (My olives were left whole.  BIG mistake.  If you chop them up a bit, the flavor will be more subtle in the dish and not quite so, um…shocking? when you eat them.)

  • After stirring in those ingredients, return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.  (If you take out the pan and the liquid has already been absorbed, you can add another 1/2 cup or so of liquid if you want.)
  • After 15 minutes, you should get something like THIS:

Enjoy!

Today we’re going to make more comfort food!  Yay!

This is a pretty basic recipe for macaroni and cheese, zhoozhed up a bit courtesy of Alton Brown and Williams-Sonoma…

On with the show…

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni.  (Use Dreamfield’s if you’re feeling low-carby.)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded  (use white cheddar if you’re feeling saucy.  Or you can throw in some Fontina, smoked gouda, Gruyere, or any other interesting cheese that haz a flavor.)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • White pepper

Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup (panko) bread crumbs  (If you don’t have panko, you can grind up some stale white bread in your food processor.)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to one minute less than the directions say.  (It will finish cooking in the oven.)

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, nutmeg, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes, stirring constantly, then remove the bay leaf.  (The bay leaf is optional, BTW.)

Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and white pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Howdy!

Today we will be making a dish whose name confounds most Yankees:   Chicken Fried Chicken!  Yee Haw!

To make this, you will need:


  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • flour
  • an egg or two
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • garlic powder
  • oil or shortening for frying
  • 1 pkg PIONEER GRAVY(!!!!)

Directions:

  • If you want to shorten the cooking time, put each chicken breast into a ziploc bag and pound it to 1/2″ thickness with a meat mallet.  But this is entirely optional…
  • Mix flour, salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder, and put into a dredging receptacle.
  • Beat eggs in a bowl that is big enough to accommodate the chicken breasts.

  • Heat oil to 350-375 degrees.
  • Dredge each piece of chicken in flour, then egg, then flour.  Make sure the entire thing is coated.

  • Fry at medium-high heat, turning frequently, until brown.  After that, lower the heat a bit, cover, and cook for another 15-20 minutes, turning frequently to avoid burning the crust.

  • If needed, you can keep the cooked chicken in your oven at 175-200 while you make the rest of the food.
  • Make the Pioneer Gravy according to directions on the package.  (Yes, this is totally cheating.  But if you have ever tasted this stuff, you know that it tastes EXACTLY like the gravy that they use for chicken fingers at Whataburger.  And I wouldn’t lie to you about something as important as gravy…  So use it!)
  • Ladle gravy over chicken and EAT!