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Monday, September 30, 2013

Thai Basil Chicken

This was one of the first dishes I made in heavy rotation after my husband and I moved into our first place together.  The fact that I work teacher hours and would get home two hours before Jim, is I'm sure one of the many reasons I developed into the cook I am today.  I had plenty of time to search for recipes, find the necessary ingredients, and go at it in the kitchen every night of the week.  It didn't hurt that we did not yet have a child and that we lived within walking distance to a Whole Foods.  I miss that apartment so very much.  I have such fond memories of strolling to Whole Foods in the afternoon, followed by simmering things on the stove and tending to them during commercial breaks of Six Feet Under reruns.  That apartment will forever make me think of Six Feet Under and Lost.  What I would do for the time to watch either of those shows from start to finish again...

Anyway, I digress.  Getting back to this particular recipe...I found it randomly in an issue of Men's Health back in 2006 or 2007 and thought it sounded to good not to try.  I was right.  This is a delicious and healthy stir fry that's unlike any other stir fry you've probably ever made.  It's mainly chicken and onions, which may sound uninteresting, but there is so much garlic, ginger, jalapeños, and basil (obviously per the title,) that the flavor is intensely good.  I've updated it by first marinating the chicken with baking soda to make it incredibly tender and more than edible when reheated.  (Does anyone else dread the second day reheated chicken funk like I do???)  Serve with rice and, if you're a heat lover, a dash of hot chili oil will send this over the top.

Thai Basil Chicken
adapted from Men's Health

1 lb boneless chicken breast, diced into small bite-size pieces
1 tsp baking soda
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
2 Tbsp ginger, minced and divided
2 Tbsp garlic, minced and divided
2 medium onions, sliced
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 cup chopped fresh basil
4 Tbsp peanut oil, divided
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock

Marinate the chicken with the baking soda for 20 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.  In a large pan, heat half the peanut oil on high heat.  Add the jalapeños and half of the garlic and ginger.  Stir for fifteen seconds until fragrant.  Then add the sliced onions.  Saute, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.  Remove everything from the pan and set aside.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the peanut oil.  Then add the remaining ginger and garlic and again stir for about fifteen seconds.  Add the chicken to the pan and raise the heat back to high.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Then return the onions to the pan along with the scallions, basil, fish sauce and chicken stock.  Allow to cook until the liquid is reduced, stirring occasionally.  Serve over your favorite rice and enjoy!

Hyper Smash

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Apple Crisp Tartlets

First apple picking excursion of the season and we got quite a haul.  (Despite the fact that the cutie below ate an apple for every one she picked!)  I always bake when we get home.  So what to bake?  So many options...decisions, decisions.  Well, I wanted something handheld and I wanted something with oats.  So I decided on a combination of apple pie and apple crisp all in one lovely two-bite package.

I threw everything together in under an hour while Adrienne played with dough scraps and cookie cutters.  That hour was more fun for than I will have eating these for sure, and that's saying a helluva lot because these came out awesome.  I know I said I wanted something handheld, but now I just can't resist throwing some vanilla bean ice cream on top.  It'll be so flippin' good, who cares that I'll need a plate.  What an absolutely lovely day.

Apple Crisp Tartlets
makes 24 mini tartlets

1 recipe pie dough, rolled out

For the filling:
3 cups of finely chopped apples (moreso than shown in the pics - I didn't chop small time I will.)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/3 cup chopped pecans or nut of choice (optional)

For the crisp topping:
1/4 cup spelt four (you can use any whole grain flour)
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/8 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.  Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut 24 circles out of your pie dough and push them into your muffin cups so that they cover the sides completely and have a slight 1/4-inch overhang.  In a large mixing bowl, mix the apples with the lemon juice.  In another large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Then mix in the apples and pecans, if using.  Put about a tablespoon of the mixture in each muffin cup.  Combine the ingredients for the topping in another medium bowl and distribute evenly over the top of each muffin cup.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.  Cool for at least 20 minutes.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

These can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.  When you want to have one, just pop them in the microwave for 12 seconds and they'll taste even better than the first day.

Your Basic (and Delicious) French Toast

So 90% of the time, I cook with whole grains.  I do my best to eat whole foods as much as possible.  But when it comes to french toast, at least for me, challah is where it's at.  So french toast is definitely a splurge in this house.  If I'm going to do it, then it's going to be totally worth the effort.  Bring on the carbs!

French Toast
serves 4

4 1-inch thick slices of challah bread (or your bread of choice)
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
dash of sea salt
butter to grease the pan

Heat a griddle with your butter over medium to medium-low heat.  Don't let it get too hot or the outside of the toast will burn before the inside is done.  In a cake pan or pie plate, whisk together everything except the bread.  Place each slice, one at a time, in the mixture for 15 seconds.  Then flip and let sit on its other side for 15 more.  Remove to a plate and allow to rest for 2 minutes before placing on your hot griddle.  Cook on each side until they are golden brown (about 5 minutes per side.)  Serve hot with maple syrup, fresh fruit, cinnamon sugar, butter...anything you like!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Herb Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

There is no food I love more than a roast chicken.  I love the way it makes the house smell (sometimes for many days.)  I love how I don't need to stand over a stove while it cooks.  I love that I can hear it sizzle in the oven all the way from the living room.  I love the way it looks when it comes out of the oven...crispy brown guilt-inducing skin.  I love putting potatoes and carrots on the fork with every juicy bite.  Mostly I love how it makes me think of the Sabbath dinners at my Bubby's house every Friday night until I went off to college.  (That's a lot of roast chicken dinners.)  If I were able to choose my last meal on this earth, it would be a roast chicken dinner - and I attribute that to my Bubby and our countless Friday night dinners together.  (I miss you, Bubs.)  I may not get to eat this every Friday night any more, but this is the meal I long for and crave many-a-day.  Unfortunately, Jim is not a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but he allows me my comfort food and puts on a good face so I can enjoy it without feeling like I'm making him suffer.  So today I decided to do it up.  It finally feels like fall, and nothing says fall like a delicious herb roasted chicken atop some garlicky root vegetables.

Herb Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

1 bunch of carrots, chopped into medium size pieces
5 red potatoes, chopped into 1 to 2 inch pieces
1 sweet potato, chopped into 1 to 2 inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, sliced
8 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

4 lb whole chicken, insides removed
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp minced fresh herbs of your choice (I used rosemary, sage, and thyme)
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion, peeled
1 lemon, halved

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Throw the first ten ingredients into a roasting pan and combine well.  Take your chicken and pat it dry with paper towels.  Stuff the cavity with the garlic, onion, and lemon.  Combine the oil, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper and rub it all over the chicken.  Then place it breast-side up on a rack on top of your vegetables in the roasting pan and put the pan in your oven.

I didn't have kitchen twine to truss the chicken.  So instead of the drumsticks being held to the body with string, I cut slits in the skin and tucked the legs in as shown above to ensure even cooking.

After 30 minutes, take the pan out quickly and close the oven door.  Remove the rack to a plate so you can mix the vegetables.  Flip the chicken over (carefully) and put everything back in the oven.  After another 20 minutes, take out the chicken again.  You should be able to remove the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.  If the veggies aren't done yet, just check them in another ten minutes.

Before you put the chicken back in the oven though, first use two fork to flip it over so it can brown and crisp on the other side.  Cook the chicken for an additional 30 minutes.  Then lower the oven to 425 degrees, flip the chicken over again and cook for another 30-45 minutes until cooked through.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before cutting so that its juices can redistribute and you end up with juicy meat.

At this point, my natural light was almost completely gone.  I would have loved to get a picture of the carved up bird with the veggies, but....sigh...first world problems.  I hope you enjoy this meal as much as my family did.