Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chocolate and peanut butter chip cookie bars

Pillsbury strikes again!  When in need of a sweet, I turn directly to the first recipe in the book- page33- Chocolate Chip Cookies.  The hassle of  dropping dough, and many trays, is always discouraging. So, I resorted to the cookie bar variation. Mix, pour, and bake. Just as delicious. But you end up eating twice as many, twice as fast. (JW ate half the pan before I could put them away. And then FOUND them and ate even more. How is that possible?!)

3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1 c butter

Mix together.

1 1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 c of flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 cup of semi sweet, milk choc and peanut butter chips

Mix. Pour in 13x9" pan. Bake 375 degrees for 25 minutes.





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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guinness stew

Sorry for the long delay in the recipe... Another of At Blanchard's Table--- however, instead of Guinness stew, this is really a Sam Adam's Cream Stout stew on top of mashed potatoes. (JW wanted to drink the Guinness and we had plenty of Cream Stout to go around.)

1/4 lb bacon
1 1/2 lb beef chuck, cubed
1/2 c onion
1/8 c flour
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c beer
1 1/2 c broth

1 T tomato paste
1/2 T rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
1/2 lb carrots
1/2 T butter
8 oz mushrooms

Saute bacon until crisp. Pour off almost all the fat (into a yogurt cup or a tin can or something- it'll eat your drain)- keep about 1 T. Add the beef. Brown in batches if you need. Once all is brown, return to the pot. And add the onions, flour, salt and pepper and brown for 2-3 minutes. Add the beer, broth, tomato paste, and herbs. Bring to a biol, and reduce to simmer for 2 hours.

Add the carrots and cook another 30 minutes. Saute mushrooms in another pan (I use a larger pot) with a touch of oil or butter. Add them to the beef with all the juices.  In the same pot, boil some salted water and add diced potatoes. Once the potatoes are soft, drain and mash with butter milk/cream and sour cream, if you have it.

Add mashed potatoes to the bottom of a bowl and pour the stew on top.



(The recipe calls for dried porcini mushrooms, which might be a nice add of flavor- but I can never find them.)
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A real chicken pot pie

Last night, I was cooking by snow lightening! or Thunder snow, whatever you wanna call it. It was pretty cool, but pretty intense.  (JV and BR, that was for you.)

JW invited his mother, MK, over for dinner, since I was planning on make a large chicken pot pie. Not large enough, because we almost ate the whole thing it was sooooo good. JW and I both had second portions! Plus salad. wow.

Anyway- this recipe is another good one by Not Your Mothers Weeknight Cooking, and here is my modified version:

Prep 25 minutes, cook 35 minutes
2 T butter
3 chicken breasts (I had frozen, with the bone in breasts, so I boiled them for 10 minutes to poach the meat and ripped it off the bone)
2 T shallots
1/4 c flour
1.5 c broth
1/2 c white wine
1/2 c half n half (I used a little less than 1/2 c skim milk and a touch of Greek yogurt)
1 T parsley
16 oz frozen veggies (I used half peas and carrots and half corn, JW's favorite)
2 roll-out frozen pie crusts (defrost on countertop for 20 min, shoprite brand was sooo good!)

1. Preheat oven to 400, and grease a 9" pie plate (I didnt think it would all fit, but it did). Since I used two pie crusts, I laid one in the bottom of the pan, pricked it, and let it bake for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, I diced the chicken and shallots and added them with butter to saute. Let them finish cooking (8 minutes) and added flour to coat. Then poured in wine, broth, milk, and parsley; allowing the dish to simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Added S&P, and took the pie crust out of the oven. and poured the mixture inside. Lay the second crust out and wet the edge with a little water (it called for egg, but i was out), and flip it on top. Push the crust into the pie dish to seal. Slice the top with a knife and I sprayed with olive oil spray (since i didnt have egg to make a yolk wash).
4. Put the dish on a cookie sheet (or else you will smoke youself out with burnt drips!) and bake for about 30 minutes.

We used MK's pie server to dish it out, and had a nice little salad. SO GOOD. JW, MK, and I all loved it.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Black bean soup w sausage

we had a fire alarm in our bldg tonight, but when we got back I made soup. I first sauteed sausage, then added onion, carrots, and cooked them til soft. I added curry powder, turmeric, pepper and coriander. added 2 cans of black beans (ok- Kliens ran out of black beans, so one was black beans and one was Progresso black bean soup that I drained and rinsed to just use the beans- what a waste!) and 3 cups of broth. I simmered it while took the laundry to the washer downstairs. Came back- mashed it up a bit and topped it with Greek yogurt. (the butter wasn't for the soup... but the bread on the side!)

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Tuna casserole

It is the coldest night in a looong time, so I knew I needed to turn on the oven! I didn't feel like going to the store, and we had leftover asparagus, so I searched on allrecipes.com for something to make with the can of cream of mushroom soup I had in the cabinet.  Tuna Casserole.


Ok- here we go!  Boil pasta in salted water (made it in my LeCresuet, so I could do a one pot dinner). Drain and preheat oven to 350. Mix together in pasta one can of cream of mushroom soup, rinse the can with milk and add it in too. I added 1 T of butter, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and 1/3 cup of greek yogurt.

Mixed it all together and placed in the oven for 15 minutes. I took it out and topped it with parm cheese, and rebaked for 7 more minutes. Served with leftover asparagus and bread and a Ceasar salad (JW's favorite thing in the whole world- some 45 calories-- topped with crushed crackers and parm cheese!). We still were hungry, and wanted the leftovers for lunch, so we both ate peanut butter sandwiches- his with chocolate peanut butter and mine with honey.

But, for the last few minutes, I've been trying to ask JW why he high-fived me at dinner. I think it was because tuna casserole was a good meal to watch in front of the tv, like a nice 60s tv dinner while we watched Antiques Road Show. But I tried asking him about it, and he said, "Stop trying to interview me for your blog!!!"
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

a WAC dinner party

Now that the kitchen is done and full functional, and the blog had been on hiatus for at least a month, it was time to spread the wealth and have some friends over for dinner!

Of course, that seemed easy... my college friends, EW and RG, were happy to volunteer. They offered to bring drinks and dessert, and I happily accepted, and was eager to see them.

The only problem, they both read the blog at least once a week, and what the heck was I going to make them and our significant others?!  The pressure was on...


It took me days to figure out the menu, and to be honest, it was still pending at 3pm that very day... but I had an idea. I knew I was going to make the Butternut Squash soup. I think I was making chicken, but wasn't sure how, and I was leaning towards mushroom risotto, homemade bread, a vegetable and a salad.  At least I didn't have to plan dessert!

And then I started thinking about previous dinner parties. I'm always stuck in the kitchen, and don't get to socialize. Poor JW has to entertain my friends while I pretend to hear what is going on while chopping and cooking away... so not this time! I decided I needed recipes that could be made in advance and I preferred baking to stove top.

Ok, well, baked chicken. Now what? I searched and searched for a marinade. Every single baked chicken recipe I found was smothered in calories. We were already having a "creamy" risotto, I didn't want creamy chicken. I also wasn't interested in bread crumbs for some reason. I figured we were already eating bread.

I knew what flavors I wanted, but why wasn't I finding a marinade like it? Is there a reason for that?!  So, finally I just decided: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, and rosemary. I marinaded the chicken while I prepared the bread and the soup.

I swear I have posted the modified version of the Butternut Squash soup recipe, but I guess not, so here it goes: 

Add butter and diced onion to pan, saute. Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler (and a pairing knife if the squash is too curvy), peel the entire squash.  Use a chef's knife (see I swear I wrote this before), to slice the squash, and then chop into chunks.  Add to the pan, and cook for a minute.

Then add 3 cups of stock, dried marjoram, cayenne pepper, and black pepper and let is simmer until the squash is soft.  I left the soup simmering while I did everything else, and a little while before serving I finished it up. Use a potato masher to mash the chunks and add in 4-6 oz of cream cheese (I used fat free- I don't like eating in on my bagel, but good in the soup). 

While the squash was getting soft, I prepared the bread dough, making it with oregano in the bread (sometimes I choose to lay rosemary on top, but we were already having rosemary on the chicken).  When the bread increased to 425 degrees, I threw the chicken in an earthenware pan, and put it in the oven too.

Probably a mistake.  The chicken cooked too long, and probably too hot. My friends went to New Jersey, instead of exiting to Philadelphia, so that didn't help the matters. I think the marinade was tasty, but the chicken was a little dry for my taste. Ah well...

The risotto was a hit, and I thoroughly enjoyed eating the next night, on the sofa, out of Tupperware... with a spoon.

I can't seem to find my mushroom risotto recipe on here either, so here it is again...

Gourmet Mushroom Risotto:
Butter and olive oil
1 -2 diced Shallots
1/2 c white wine
1 c Abrorio rice
3 c stock
10 oz mushrooms
1/2 c Parmesan cheese


Add 1 T of butter and 1 T of olive oil to a pan and diced shallot (or onion or garlic, whatever). Let it cook 1 minute. Then add 1 cup of rice and stir to coat in the oils.  Let it cook 1 minute.  Add white wine over medium heat, and stir occasionally to allow rice to absorb. Once the liquid is absorbed, add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Meanwhile, I sauteed the mushrooms with butter.

I don't listen to measurements, so I added probably 1 - 1 1/2 cups stirred it a few times, and ran to the "dining room" to set the table.  We pushed our regular table together with a folding table from Lowe's and covered it with a square white linen cloth. I added periwinkle napkins, silverware, WAC water glasses, and stemless wine glasses. I added bread plates and the candlesticks.

Well, of course, I had to run back to the kitchen a few times in between to stir the risotto and add more liquid, but not many. My friends should be here any minute, so I started to plate the cheese (thank RowHomeEats for the tray!) and took the bread out of the oven.

I began to prep the salad: spring mix, diced granny smith apple, walnuts, goat cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  I forgot the red onion! (dang! that's what was wrong.  wow. that took a few days to realize!)

I turned off the oven, as my friends arrived. We began with drinks and cheese.  Since we were having an early dinner, to get them home at a reasonable hour, we shortly started with our soup and bread! It was delightful. I could have stopped there. I love this freakin soup! JW2 even tried it, and said it tasted like mashed potatoes! sweet!

Well, we all cleaned our plates and bowls- and we starred around the table- did we want to switch out our bread plates for dinner plates? No one seemed to care... what was I thinking?! We have a dishwasher, Martha would never have served dinner on bread plates.

But I did. I plated up the chicken, asparagus (made in the pan after the mushrooms with olive oil, butter, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper-- wow... lots of the same flavors!), risotto and we passed everything around. Ok. I lie. I didn't feel like making the chicken look pretty, so I served everyone from the pan out of the oven!

The bread plates would have worked, if we had slices of chicken and no asparagus. The veggies draped over the sides. oh well. I ate my with my fingers. Just like Julia Child.

We had great company, and great dessert: Striped Delight! RBG made it- graham cracker crust with a chocolate pudding and whipped cream.  I'll see if I can track down the recipe, as I'd like to make it. It's all I had for dinner last night, with the risotto leftovers!  The best part, or the nice surprise, was the chocolate chunks on top!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Easy Quick Homemade Bread

JW loooooves when I make bread!

It's super easy and fast, as the name implies.  When I use whole wheat bread it becomes very dense, and JW can't get enough.  When I use all-purpose flour (unbleached) it rises a lot more and is more like "real" bread.

1/4 c Sugar
3 T Butter
2 t Salt
1/2 c Milk
1 1/2 c very warm water
3 packets (of 1/4 oz) Active dry Yeast
5 c of flour

I first run hot water in my KitchenAid mixer bowl, while I add the sugar, butter, milk and salt in a saucepan to heat. I then, in the warm bowl, I add the water and the yeast, mixing to dissolve.  Once the milk/sugar mixture is blended, I let it cool for a minute, and then add it into the yeast.

I preheat the oven for 175 degrees. While I slowly add the flour while mixing on the stand, I add a dash of spices, generally garlic powder and rosemary but oregano is another choice. I continue to mix it slowly, waiting for the dough to pull off from the bowl sides.  I then grease my bread pan, lay it in, and flip it (greasing both sides). I place the pan on top of the stove, near the oven vent, where it is warm, and cover the pan with a towel for 10 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, I put it in the oven for 10 minutes. Then, increase the temperature to 425 degrees for 25 more minutes.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Enchiladas

 I love making enchiladas, because it is so easy! I can use a variation of what is in the cupboard; the ingredients are cheap; and I get to use the oven (a bonus in the winter).

Since the last time I made enchiladas and blogged about it, my friend OPP recommended making my own enchiladas sauce.  This time I did! I had all the ingredients, and it was super fast!  The directions said to simmer for 40 minutes, but I never listen.

So I made the enchiladas sauce and allowed it to cook as long as it took me to assemble the enchiladas themselves:

Enchiladas Sauce (from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients
1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons and 1-1/2 teaspoons hot chili powder
2-1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high high heat. Saute onion until tender. Stir in garlic, oregano, cumin and cinnamon; saute for a few minutes.

2.Stir in flour and chili powder, stirring until sauce thickens. Slowly whisk in chicken broth; reduce until sauce reaches desired consistency. Stir in chocolate until melted and well blended.

In a saute pan, I began to saute onions and bell peppers. I pushed them off to a side, and then warmed refried beans and pinto beans (I prefer black beans, but this is what I had).  I mixed in the typical spices (see previous post), and then mixed in half the veggies, 1/2 c of cheese, 1/2 c of enchiladas sauce and scooped onto tortillas, added to a pan, topped with sauce and more cheese.  Baked for 25 minutes at 350.

I'm actually making up the time. They are still in the oven.

On the side, I'm serving red beans and rice. Or some variation of this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Authentic-Louisiana-Red-Beans-and-Rice/Detail.aspx

I left the remaining veggies in the pan, added a can of red kidney beans, and the following:
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (i just added the same spices I used for the enchiladas)
4 cups water

2 cups long grain white rice

I decided to add a can of tomato paste. Not sure why, just felt like it.  We will see how it all turns out...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's Shake and Bake, and I helped.

 Well, I hope you well enough by now to know I would not buy shake and bake.  Tonight's recipe, from a book called "Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking," might as well be shake-n-bake. It was super easy: shake and bake and you're done. Here is the Waxed Bean version of their recipe:

Parmesan Crusted Herb Chicken:
2 Chicken Breasts- drizzle with olive oil then dip in milk

In a bag mix together, 1/2 c bread crumbs, 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, 1 T parsley, 1/2 t basil, 1/4 t marjoram, 1/4 t paprika, salt and pepper. Add the chicken, and shake.

Add the chicken to a Pyrex/earthenware, and bake for 35 minutes at 425.

Meanwhile, make roasted root vegetables. Dice potatoes, turnips, carrots, celery, or whatever you have! Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake about 40 minutes at 425. (yeah, so I put these in the oven first and then did the chicken, but you would've figured that out...)

JW really enjoyed the veggies! I thought he wasn't going to like the celery that I threw in there- but as a roasted vegetable, and not crunchy, he quite enjoyed it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Waxed Bean: Apple Crisp

The Waxed Bean: Apple Crisp

I needed to post the apple crisp again, as I made it for my co-workers birthday. I made it in the new oven, with the convection setting, so it cooked faster than I'm used to- and it made the apples into apple sauce. SO GOOD!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My kitchen staff

 The blessing of a new, and what seems more spacious, kitchen is that I was able to convince JW to make me dinner!  I was smart and defrosted the ingredients I knew he knew how to use that morning, and just had to convince him I was too busy vacuuming.

JW's signature dish is Pasta and Sausages.  To be honest, he makes his noodles better than I do. I never cook them long enough, and he does it just right.  (Probably because I think he is paying attention to them, and he is waiting for me to tell him when they are done... so it's longer than I would have left them in! That's the trick...)  He poached the sausages in 1/4" of water and steamed them by putting on the lid (they cook faster). Meanwhile, I finished vacuuming and was in charge of veggies.

While JW added sauce to the meat, I sauteed spinach in half a pan and brussels sprouts in the other half. Viola!

My kitchen staff pulled through! You didn't know I provided uniforms.  Come on over!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Salmon cakes, wild rice, Brussels sprouts

Here is the recipe for salmon cakes: http://waxedbean.blogspot.com/2010/10/salmon-cakes-and-farm-share.html and brussels sprouts: http://waxedbean.blogspot.com/2010/10/best-brussels-sprouts.html.

(Is it brussel or brussels? ...wikipedia says Brussels)


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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

 I have been wanting to make this for a while!  I was at MK's house, reading Real Simple, and instead of writing down the recipe, I photographed it.

It was really easy, and VERY delicious!

Another use for those chocolate wafers that we use to make the ice box cake!



Anguilla's Shepherd's Pie


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Pork with Butternut squash and leek risotto

 Darn. I already wrote this blog. My laptop then ran out of power, and I don't have my power cord. Darn.

Well, here it goes again. This dinner was a hit- JW's favorite in 2011!  The pork was easy. I bought a tenderloin pre-marinated at Wegman's, and cooked it according to the directions.

The risotto came from Bon Appetit magazine (JV, my Site Manager, gave me for Christmas- knows me too well!). I made a few adjustments for a variety of reasons, but here is my version:

1.5 T olive oil
2 c butternut squash, cubed
1.5 c leeks
1/2 T thyme
1 c arborio rice
1/2 c white wine
3 c broth
1/3 c Parmesan cheese

Peeling the squash is a pain, but I find it faster than roasting and then scooping. So I use a combination of a veggie peeler and a pairing knife. My cubes were a variety of sizes, and the smaller ones were more enjoyable.  (I also found that my dull chef's knife cut this 100 times easier than my brand new cook's knife. I'm still investigating...)

Heat 1 T oil and saute squash about 5 minutes. Remove squash from pan.

Add rest of oil and saute leeks over medium heat for 5 minutes, tender not brown. Add rice and coat in oil.  After 1 minute, add wine. Once rice has absorbed wine, add 1/2 cup of broth at a time, waiting for rice to absorb liquid before adding more. Stirring often, about 15 minutes.

Return squash to pan and cook about 10 more minutes. Add Parmesan cheese and S&P.

Breakfast not in bed


Today I woke up to organize the spices. It was really bothering me that they weren't were I wanted them to be.  After that hour long process, I decided to make breakfast (or lunch, as you can tell from the range that it is 1:18pm).


I made pancakes (I didn't have eggs, so I cheated and used a mix I had on hand), some sausage, and sweet potatoes.  For the potatoes, I diced them, sauteed in olive oil, then sprinkled a little cumin and salt on top.

Once breakfast/lunch was ready, JW finished reading about cannibalism, and was convinced to come to the dining room table. He attempted to get served breakfast in bed, but I didn't like the idea of gettin syrup on my sheets.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tomato soup for the snow


I had to work on Saturday, and by the time I walked home it had snowed several inches. I was craving something to warm me up!

I wanted melted cheese. I thought about French Onion soup, but I didn't have enough onion. But, grilled cheese and tomato soup would be ideal. I never made tomato soup from scratch before, so I logged onto allrecipes.com while I walked, and looked for the soup that was top rated and most reviewers. Miraculously, I had every ingredient at home!

Ingredients

1 (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup heavy cream

Directions

In a large stock pot mix tomatoes, chicken broth, butter, sugar, onion and baking soda. Simmer for 1 hour.

Slowly heat cream until hot. You can also do this in a regular saucepan over low heat, but watch it carefully so that the cream does not scorch! OR use a double boiler. Once heated through add to tomato soup and serve.

For the grilled cheese, I only had Taleggio cheese (a washed rind, Italian cow's milk cheese).  I attempted to slice it, but it was too soft, so it was cheese piles. I put these cheese piles onto pumpernickel bread, and added to a lightly buttered pan.  I put the two bottom slices and cheese in the pan. I then added the top slice for mine, and some tomato and top slice for JW.  Once it began to smoke just slightly, I put a piece of butter on each top slice and flipped the sandwiches. I turned the sandwiches in the pan to help coat the whole bread with butter.

I ate mine without a spoon, but dunked the sandwiches a million times. It was sooooo good. We really enjoyed the soup, and will make it again, for sure. JW even asked "what'd I do to deserve this?"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Almost done!

Fridge and micro are left... should be done by weekend... snow doesn't interfere AGAIN!
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Can you go wrong with these ingredients?

Bag of chocolate cookies, choc chips, lots of butter, wine, and cheese. Obviously not all going together, but it was too good not to get a snap shot. Plus you get a view of my new knives... Sharp as.... well. Sharp.
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Monday, January 3, 2011

Chicken and Biscuits, not Pot Pie

 After a long debate, I have stopped calling this Chicken Pot Pie. A pot pie would have a pie crust, possibly top and bottom, and this does not- it has biscuits on top. I agree; I was wrong.  I blame my mother...

The recipe was titled "Vermont Chicken and Biscuits," although my mom has been making me some version of this my whole life (I think it came off the Bisquik box, but don't tell anyone).

This recipe came from the Vermont angle of the cookbook "At Blanchard's Table" (they moved from Vermont to Anguilla to start a restaurant).

Since the original version made 12 servings, here are the portions I used to serve 2... for 3 days:

3 lbs chicken breast
1/2 large onion
1/4 c shallots
1 stalk celery
2 carrots
1 bay leaf
3/4 t thyme
3/4 T parsley
1 c chicken broth
1/8 c flour (of course, I didnt measure that- I just eye balled 1/2 of 1/4 cup. Duh)
S&P

Add chicken, onions, shallots, carrots, herbs, broth, and 2 cups of water into a large pot and boil, then reduce to low. Directions says for 1-1.5 hours, I think I did 1 hour total. (You are supposed to take out the chicken and reduce the broth down for another hour, but I didnt do that for very long- I think at 45 minutes I took the chicken out- and layered in the pan, let the gravy simmer down while I made the biscuits.)

Meanwhile in a bowl elsewhere, I added together 3/4 c flour, 1/12 cup (yup, one twelfth... a couple tablespoons) cornmeal, 2 t baking powder, 1/4 t salt, mixed together with 2.5 T butter and 1/4 c and 2 t milk. (This is what happens when you cut 12 servings to 3).  To be honest, I'm having a hard time remembering, but I think I went back and doubled the biscuits because I opted for a shallow long pan (a gift from my mamma).  so 1.5 c flour, 1/6 c cornmeal, 4 t bpwder, 1/2 t salt; 5 T butter, and a little more than 1/2 c milk. (You can use a cookie cutter, but I just made flat pancake looking things. 1/2" thick)

Preheat oven to 475, pour gravy over chicken, layer biscuit dough on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

I made a great salad to go with it: apples, red onion, goat cheese, walnuts, balsamic and olive oil.




Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year and a New Kitchen... brings homemade pasta

 My favorite thing about the holidays is generally all the kitchen gadgets I receive as awesome presents. This year, the best present ever could be the collaborative efforts of many- the kitchen!! Although still not completed well into the first weeks of the new year, with New Year's Eve, it became mostly functional!

And not a moment too soon, as I volunteered to make an apple crisp for a NYE potluck dinner.  "Fruity and delicious," or something along those lines, deemed by JW.

With the fridge still operating out of the office, we are making it work.  I was inspired with the new work space, that I convinced one of my dearest friends, JD, to travel to Jersey with me to go to Wegman's (for the second time in three days).  It's ok, don't feel bad for her... she likes going to Jersey. She's from there... I still don't get the no left turns, jug handles, taxes, not pumping your own gas... did I mention no left turns? (Especially when your GPS keeps telling you to do a U-turn... to the left!)

For my first true meal in the "new" kitchen, which seems like old news since it's been in the working stages for over a month now (and planning since what feels like 2002), I decided to make pasta from scratch. I haven't made pasta since before I moved to Philly, when I stayed with a distant friend on Indian Queen Lane in East Falls.

My mom gave me a pasta and casserole cookbook for Christmas, and I dove right in. (Don't look at the photo, it actually looks terrible, but the dish tasted nice, minus a small detail I'll explain later.) I decided to try a spinach pasta, and here is my version:

Defrost a block of frozen, chopped spinach. Drain and squeeze with paper-towels about 5.5 oz. Chop it up. Then mix, on the countertop, with:

1 1/2 cups of flour (I use unbleached)
1/4 t salt

Make a well on the counter, and crack 2 eggs (from Jack's Hole Eggs, free-range chickens) in the center and lightly beat. Add 1 T of olive oil and mix all the ingredients together with your fingers.  Begin to roll in a ball. (Ask someone else to help you add flour to your hands so you make less of a mess.)  Knead a few times, and let sit in plastic wrap for 30 minutes. (It makes it more elastic, I learned.)

Then, on a lightly floured counter, roll out the dough: lightly floured rolling pin and turning the dough a 1/4 every so often until it is 1/16-1/8" thick.

So, I don't think I saw the 1/16" in the book. I saw 1/8" and maybe even 1/4! What was I thinking? The "pasta" was WAY too thick. It was like dough sticks after I cooked it. It would have been better if, instead of "ribbons" I cut it into solid macaroni strips or something. Or moved the cutting board in my way and rolled it out a little thinner with my awesome red rolling pin (thanks MG!).  Well, anyway, I sliced the pasta, and added it to boiling, salted water and let it cook.

Meanwhile, I made the sauce, which I'm going to have to try to remember as I type this over a week later... I remember combining two recipes...

First, I sauteed shallots in butter and added the shells off the shrimp.  I added some stock maybe and water (1.5 c) and boiled the shells for 10 min.  Meanwhile, I sauteed the shrimps, next to my spinach leftover from earlier, in butter and garlic, and added frozen peas and fresh broccoli as the shrimp got pink. Added some chives and the shrimp stock. Added a few tablespoons of cream, and sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top to serve.

I enjoyed the flavor. For sure. Next time, I'll stagger up to Rising Sun Avenue and buy me a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.