Chicken Tetrazzini

For Christmas two years ago I gave Patrick a very small cookbook entitled How to Make Pot Pies and Casseroles from Cook's Illustrated. I inscribed it with a small paragraph that reads "Merry Christmas Patrick! Two of your favorites--pot pies/casseroles and Cook's Illustrated! Can't wait for more loving kitchen adventures." I had pulled this little cookbook out when it was really cold a few weeks ago to find a recipe that would be hearty and served warm. It was such a nice surprise to read the inscription and reminisce on those adventures and how thankful I am we both enjoy cooking together. One of the first recipes from this cookbook we tried was Chicken Pot Pie but we decided to try Chicken Tetrazzini this particular night.

Chicken Tetrazzini
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 lb spaghetti
6 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing baking dish
8 oz white button mushrooms, sliced (we used cremini)
2 medium onions, minced
ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium
3 tbsp dry sherry
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
4 cups leftover boneless turkey or chicken meat, cut into 1/4-inch dice (we used a rotisserie chicken)
2 cups frozen peas, thawed

1. For the topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat over to 350F. Mix fresh breadcrumbs, salt, and butter in small baking dish; bake until golden brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature, transfer to bowl, and mix with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.

2. For the filling: Increase oven temperature to 450F. Butter shallow casserole or baking dish that measures about 9x13 inches. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tbsp salt, snap spaghetti in half, and add to pot. Cook until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water, drain spaghetti, and return to pot with reserved liquid.


3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp butter in large skillet over medium heat until foaming subsides; add mushrooms and onions and saute, stirring frequently, until onions soften and mushroom liquid evaporates, 7 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; transfer to medium bowl and set aside.
Mushrooms & Onions
 4. Melt remaining 4 tbsp butter in cleaned skillet over medium heat. When foam subsides, whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour turns golden, 1 to 2 minutes. While continuing to whisk, gradually add chicken stock. Adjust heat to medium-high and simmer until mixture thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Take off heat and whisk in sherry, Parmesan, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt, lemon juice, and thyme. Add sauce, mushroom mixture, turkey/chicken, and peas to spaghetti and mix well, adjusting seasonings to taste.


5. Turn mixture into buttered baking dish, sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs, and bake until bread crumbs brown and mixture is bubbly, 13 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chicken Tetrazzini! It was worth it.
Beware this dish does use a lot of bowls and pots in prep so be on the lookout at some point in the future for an easier tetrazzini... it's our mission to find one! Or do you have one you'd like to share with us?!

Green Beans with Pork

On the day when our Food Made Fast: Asian cookbook showed up, I was very excited to try a recipe from it. Because we already had some ground pork and most of the other ingredients, this quick stir-fry from the "20 minutes start to finish" section was a natural choice. Even with low-sodium soy sauce and beef broth, this dish can come out a bit salty (for my over-sensitive palate), but the flavors were delicious and I would love to make this again.

Dry-fried String Beans with Pork
1 lb green beans, trimmed and but into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp corn or peanut oil
1/4 lb ground pork
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
steamed rice, for serving

1. Parboil the green beans: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the beans, parboil for 2 minutes, and drain into a colander. Place under running cold water to halt the cooking. Pat the beans dry.
2. Make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the beef broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and sugar and stir to dissolve the cornstarch and sugar.
3. Stir-fry the beans: Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until very hot and add the oil. Add the pork and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, green onion, and jalapeno and stir-fry for about 10 seconds until fragrant. Add the green beans and stir to mix. Give the sauce a quick stir, add to the pan, and stir-fry until the beans are heated through and the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve with the rice.

Panko Fried Shrimp

This was one of our impromptu meals from a night when I had no idea what to make. I picked up a bag of frozen shrimp at the store to be the main dish, and we figured the rest out at home. I don't think I had ever made fried shrimp before, so this was a fun experiment, and the results were very delicious.

Standard breading procedure - flour, egg, and panko.
Find a human like this one to do the breading.
Cook in hot oil until golden brown...
And serve with your choice of sides! We had sweet potato and wild rice.

Chicken with Squash, Turnips, and Mushrooms

In my last post I mentioned that we needed to exchange a cookbook Tim had given us for Christmas. Well I wasn't able to get what I wanted in the store so Patrick and I had to pick out the next best thing! We chose a cookbook entitled Weeknight Fresh + Fast. The cookbook is divided into 4 sections for each of the seasons. This will allow us to better utilize our fresh veggies from the CSA. Without further ado here's the first recipe we tried.

Chicken with Squash, Turnips, and Mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs (we used 2 breasts)
large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh sage (we used thyme)
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-in pieces
2 bunches small turnips, cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp chicken broth
1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped (they said shiitake, we used cremini)
1 1/4 tsp flour

Brown chicken in large pan on high, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Reduce heat to medium, add onion and sage, and saute until tender. Add squash, turnips, and 1 1/2 cups broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add chicken back, and cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes. Saute mushrooms until tender. Add mushrooms (and optionally turnip greens) to chicken. Mix flour with 1 tbsp chicken broth, and add to pan. Simmer until sauce thickens.

Now eating,

Food Made Fast

It's no secret I enjoy a good cookbook... but I love love love the Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast series. My first Food Made Fast cookbook was given to me by The Revelles for Christmas a few years ago (maybe like 3 years ago, so long ago! ah!) and the theme was "pasta". Well I loved it. Every recipe has a picture and nearly every page I turned I say "ooo, I want to try that one". Last year I added the "simple suppers" theme. And had the same reaction as I did with pasta book. Some of the recipes we featured on the blog from these two books were Pasta with Zucchini and Goat Cheese, Steak Piperade, Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Garlic, and Pork Schnitzel with Arugula.

Well Tim gave Patrick and me a cookbook for Christmas we already had! (It was Art of the Slow Cooker and my parents gave it as a Christmas gift last year; we love it. Did you see this soup we tried from it?) Anyway off we went to exchange it at Williams-Sonoma. I secretly had my heart on adding to my Food Made Fast series... but we learned at the store that they were discontinuing the series! Oh no! I went into panic mode. When we returned home I found what I was looking for on (and at a discounted rate) and snapped a few up thus doubling my collection. Patrick and I agreed the Asian theme and the Slow Cooker theme would be most useful. I promise to share some recipes with you since I just raved about these cookbooks but now you can't buy them. In fact be on the lookout for a few upcoming posts because we've already tried two recipes out of my new books.

Here they are!!

Red Velvet Cake

We had a few family and friends to visit for a day over the holidays. My parents came up with my grandmother and met up with one of Mom's best friends! We had lunch at a local Japanese steakhouse and Patrick and I hosted everyone at our house for dessert. I requested Patrick bake us a Red Velvet Cake for two reasons. First because it's one of my favorite childhood cakes. And secondly it's red and perfect for Christmas. Patrick researched recipes and found this one from Cook's Country

Red Velvet Cake
2 tbsp natural cocoa powder
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c buttermilk, room temp
2 large eggs, room temp
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp red food coloring (1 oz bottle)
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle and preheat to 350. Line bottoms of two 9-in pans with parchment paper, grease, and dust with cocoa powder. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla. In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp cocoa with red food coloring to make smooth paste. 

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of buttermilk mixture, and repeat until all is mixed (second 1/3 flour, other 1/2 buttermilk, last 1/3 flour). Beat in cocoa mixture until batter is uniform. Give the batter a final stir with rubber spatula. Scrape batter into prepared pans. 

Bake until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and flip onto wire rack. Remove parchment, flip rightside up, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream cheese frosting
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
2 tbsp sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 c powdered sugar

Beat everything but powdered sugar on medium-high until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes. Reduce to medium-low and slowly add sugar, and beat until smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 4 to 6 minutes.

Look at Patrick go.
And one more cute picture of Lucien!

Hoppin' Johns!

It was New Year's Day and I knew Patrick and I needed to eat some black eyed peas. Black eyed peas, of course, bring you good luck throughout the New Year. A post popped up on my blog reader from The Pioneer Woman that I knew was the perfect candidate. She called it Hoppin' John (read it here) and I've pasted it below. If you're interested in making it definitely check out her post--she has picture by picture instructions!

Hoppin' John from The Pioneer Woman
4 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Large Onion, Diced
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Diced
2 stalks Celery, Diced
4 cups Soaked Black-eyed Peas
5 cups Low-sodium (or No-sodium) Chicken Broth
1 whole Ham Hock
Salt And Pepper, to taste
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
White Or Brown Rice, For Serving

Preparation Instructions
   (Soak black-eyed peas in cool water for at least 6 hours. Rinse before using.)

Patrick found some rehydrated peas at the grocery store. 
   Heat butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, and celery and stir. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in soaked beans, then add chicken broth, ham hock, salt & pepper, and cayenne to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover the pot for 30 minutes.

   After 30 minutes, check the liquid level; if it's too soupy, cook with the lid off for another 15 minutes or so. If it's too thick, splash in a little more broth.
   Stir in vinegar, then taste for seasonings. Add more spice if needed.

Serve over white or brown rice, making sure to get plenty of the cooking liquid spooned over the top. Or, you may mix the bean mixture with the rice before serving.

Variations: add red bell pepper, canned diced tomatoes, diced jalapenos, diced ham (instead of ham hocks), or sliced bacon (instead of ham hocks). Stir in torn-up kale when 5 minutes of cooking time remain.

Variation: use canned, drained black-eyed peas if preferred. Just use diced ham instead of ham hock and a little less broth, as peas won't need to cook as long.

Patrick and I chose the bacon variation instead of ham hock! And served over brown rice in our wonderfully convenient pasta bowls.

New Grill Pan! (steak, asparagus, and potatoes)

Whitney's Christmas gift for me this year was a Le Creuset cast-iron grill pan! Of course, we had to try it out as soon as possible, so she picked up some filet mignon to grill, with sides of asparagus and red potatoes. The asparagus was roasted and topped with balsamic glaze and parmesan shavings, and the potatoes were roasted with rosemary and garlic. Everything turned out perfectly!

For the steak:
I'm always terrified of cooking steak, as I hate wasting a great cut of meat by overcooking it, and there seems to be some voodoo magic involved in cooking it to your liking. We lucked out this time and ended up with some perfectly done medium-rare juicy filets. I let them sit out for about 40 minutes to warm up, patted them dry, and coated them with oil, salt, and pepper. I heated the grill pan very hot and seared each side 2-3 minutes (flipping with my new silicone tongs - thanks Charlene!), and then threw the pan in the 400 degree oven for about 2 minutes, then transferred them to a plate. (For reference, these filets were between 3/4" and 1").

Prepping the steaks

Mmmm...can you smell them?

For the Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus (by Whitney):
I'm not sure it's been well documented on the blog but Patrick is not a huge fan of mashed potatoes. With this being known I had to figure out a way to make yummy potatoes without mashing them. We roast so much other stuff that I thought we'd do this to the potatoes. I allowed 30 minutes for potato roasting and with 10 minutes left I added the asparagus to the same pan. Read on for more a more detailed recipe.

Roasted Potatoes serves 2
2 small red potatoes
3 cloves garlic
crushed rosemary
extra virgin olive oil

Wash the potatoes and cut the potatoes into a small dice. I chose to keep the peeling on the potato for a little extra nutritional value and crunch but you may peel them. Also I chose a small dice so that the potatoes would not need a long roasting time in the oven. In a small mixing bowl toss the potatoes with olive oil, crushed or minced garlic, and rosemary. I used rosemary I had frozen a few months ago and chopped to store. Feel free to skip the mixing bowl and toss the potatoes on the pan but I always make a mess and the potatoes get tossed everywhere. Place the potatoes on an aluminum-foil lined pan and top with a little more olive oil. Bake in a 400F for 30 minutes or until tender. Check the potatoes every 10 minutes or so and stir them around so they won't stick to the foil. 

Roasted Asparagus adapted from New Best Recipe
asparagus, washed and trimmed of hard stems
3/4c balsamic vinegar
evoo, salt and pepper
parmesan shavings
Place the asparagus spears in a 400F for 10 minutes (conveniently with the potatoes). Drizzle a little evoo on top and other seasonings. Meanwhile bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until it reduces to 1/4 c and is syrup-y. Serve the reduced balsamic glaze over the asparagus and top with shaved parmesan cheese.

Simple Supper: Chicken, Wild Rice, & Salad

Patrick and I aren't trying fancy recipes every night. Some nights we're eating up leftovers and others eating some Kraft macaroni and cheese (but very rarely). On this particular evening we were able to put together this simple supper that looks somewhat fancy, impressed us both, and we were able to use most everything from our pantry / refrigerator stock. Read on for an analysis of this simple supper!

Marinated chicken breasts
   Patrick and I usually have frozen chicken breasts on hand. This allows us to defrost as many as we need for any particular night. If we know we're just fixing a meal for dinner (and not planning for leftovers, like this particular night) we'll opt for one chicken breast and split it. After defrosting we used one of our favorite marinades, originally introduced to us by a great family friend! It's called Allegro Original Marinade. Then we baked the chicken.

Wild rice
   One of our new favorite side dishes.

   This salad was made possible by our CSA. The lettuce and beets both came from the farm. I'm not sure which particular type of lettuce we had at the time (we try a new variety each week). The beets were roasted a previous day and kept in the refrigerator so we can have them to use at any time. Then finally sprinkled the salad with a little goat cheese, almonds, and a balsamic vinaigrette made by Patrick.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

The other day I was browsing around to find a slow cooker recipe I could make in the morning and come home to after work. I didn't quite want a beef stew, wasn't really in the mood for putting a whole chicken in there, and then didn't want to have a large prep step before going in the cooker. Finally I decided Martha Stewart's Beef Stroganoff was exactly what I wanted!

2 pounds beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into thin slices (about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches long)
    I purchased the beef chuck already trimmed and sliced for pot roasting
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and halved (or quartered, if large)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Cooked thin egg noodles, for serving
Chopped fresh dill, for garnish (optional)

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, toss beef, onion, and mushrooms with 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and teaspoon pepper. Cover, and cook on low until meat is tender, about 8 hours (or on high for 6 hours).
In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Ladle 1 cup cooking liquid into measuring cup; whisk to combine. Pour into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil; cook until thickened, about 1 minute. With slow cooker turned off, stir in cornstarch mixture, then sour cream and mustard. Serve beef over noodles; sprinkle with dill, if desired.

Add chopped mushrooms, onions, and beef. Toss everything around and add a few springs of thyme.

Some comments from the website mentioned there needed to be a little liquid in the first step. Even though the mushrooms do have a lot of moisture we decided to try this. I added about 1/3 cup of beef stock before putting the lid on and cooking. This meal turned out to be real teamwork. I prepped the first part of the recipe and then Patrick finished the sauce and boiled the egg noodles.