Sunday, December 9, 2012

Greek Chicken

Greek chicken
I went on a trip with my family and we ate at this amazing Greek restaurant. I loved the food. Everything had tons of lemon and oregano. It tasted to so fresh. I decided to try to replicate the tastes. We are having a very mild winter so the oregano (and most of our herbs) are still growing.
This dish took me a couple of tries to get it "right." I tried it first with boneless skinless chicken breasts and it just wasn't as good as using chicken pieces with the skin on. I use thighs in this recipe.
I also used different types of potatoes. My favorite turned out to be small red potatoes. I like lots of lemony taste so I used two lemons and their zest. If you aren't crazy about lemons- well you may not want to make this dish. I also used lots of pepper (but then I love pepper).
The key to Greek chicken is fresh oregano
Greek Chicken

6-8 Chicken Pieces (I use Thighs)
4 Large Potatoes or 8 Small Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
A Couple of Sprigs of Fresh Oregano, Chopped
1/2 of a Medium Onion, Chopped
4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
Zest from One Lemon
Salt and Pepper, to Taste
1/4 Cup (60 ml) of Olive Oil
Juice of 2 Lemons

Preheat oven to 350F/176C/Gas Mark 4 (regular or convection). Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Place the chicken in the pan and place the potatoes and onions around the chicken. salt and pepper the chicken and potatoes.
The great thing about this dish is it a one dish meal
Sprinkle the oregano and garlic over the chicken and potatoes. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil over the chicken and potatoes.
Ready for the oven
Bake in oven for 55-65 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F/ 74 (the best method is to cook to the proper temperature). If you use your convection oven, you should start checking for doneness around 45 minutes.
Yummy greek chicken!
The bottom line: Will I make this again? Yes. It is wonderful. Next time I may grate the potatoes so they are like hash browns.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Iron Rich Toffee Cereal Mix

Toffee Cereal Mix
I have HHT, which stands for hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. Never heard of it? It is a genetic disease that affects blood vessels and occurs in 1 in 5,000 people. Approximately 1.2 million people have hht worldwide which makes it uncommon but not rare. The most common sign of HHT is nosebleeds but it can and does strike other areas of the body. Want to know more? Go here or here.
I found out I had HHT when I was in my twenties. I had my pity party (it lasted several months) then decided that I am more than a disease. I am stronger than a disease and I can beat it. I decided to enjoy every minute of my life. Do I? For the most part I do. I love my family, my job, my friends, and my off time. I try to balance my love of food with exercise (not so crazy about the exercise). I take many moments to be awed by the people and the beauty around me. I chose to be positive. Having said that, I also make sure I am well-informed about the disease I have.
Every two years I go to an HHT conference. I find out where we are with finding a cure and what I need to be thinking about. I also go to be inspired by the tremendous, incredible, strong, resilient (there just aren't enough adjectives) people who struggle with the disease. I am continually awed. Also at some point in the conference I have a small pity party for myself and move on. I also have an "a-ha" moment.
This year's a-ha moment was iron deficiency. There were several great presentations on iron and iron deficiency. (People with HHT bleed and our iron stores run down). While I am not anemic, I am concerned that my iron stores are being depleted. So I did some research and came up with a game plan.
Here is my take on iron. There are two types of iron- heme iron (from animals) and non-heme iron (from plants). Most iron supplements are non-heme. Non-heme iron is not as readily absorbed which is why you take vitamin c with it (it needs an acidic environment in the stomach). Non-heme is also the iron with the majority of the side effects. Heme iron is found in beef, duck, fish, lamb, shrimp, and clams. Clams and oysters are the best sources for heme iron. I love love clams. I have already started making clams at least once a week. I will be posting those recipes later as I perfect them. Non-heme iron is found in fortified cereals, spinach (I love spinach), pumpkin seeds, molasses, beans, and raisins. It is harder to absorb and usually has more of the side effects (the big side effect being constipation).
I thought that it was would great to make an iron rich snack mix with some added fiber. The trick was to make it taste good so it would be a joy to eat. I decided to share it because I know I am not the only one who struggles with iron decency. For the cereal I used a mixed of corn, wheat, rice, and cinnamon chex and Cheerios.

Iron Rich Toffee Cereal Mix

8 Cups of Cereal
3 Cups (24 g) of Popped Popcorn
1 Cup (50 g) of Pretzels
1 Cup (130 g) of Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 Cup (55 g) of Butter
1/3 Cup (80 ml) Molasses
1/3 Cup (80 ml) Light Corn Syrup
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

Preheat oven to 250F/120C/ Gas Mark 0.5.  Combine the cereals, popcorn, pretzels, and seeds in a bowl or cookie sheet.
The cereal mixture ready for the toffee
In a saucepan combine butter, molasses, corn syrup, and salt over medium heat and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and add baking soda. Mixture will foam. Stir until completely combined.
After you add the baking soda, the mixture will foam
Pour over cereal mixture and stir until well coated. Spread onto baking sheets. Bake in oven  for  30 minutes turning every 10 minutes until mixture hardens. Cool and eat.
Cereal toffee
The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes- my family loved it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Not Your Ordinary Christmas Cottage

Our beautiful leaning house
I have made gingerbread houses before and they were not the most architecturally sound buildings. I did enjoy decorating them. Honestly, I was not crazy about making the gingerbread. It was time consuming and well, tedious. So this year I decided to make them out of crisp rice cereal. Yep! That yummy gooey marshmallowy treat. I made candy sushi out them; why not a house? The result was a quick-to-make but still not architecturally sound house. Making the house was easy and decorating was so so much fun. I am surprised it did not collapse under all the weight of icing and candy.

Crisp Rice Cereal House

6 Tbsp of Butter, Divided
8 Cups (20 oz.) (567 g) of Miniature Marshmallows, Divided
12 Cups (1200 g) of Crisp Rice Cereal
Assorted Candy

Butter or grease a 13 x 9 inch (33 x 23 cm) pan. Measure a 15 x 10 inch (38 x 25 cm)  piece of foil, grease the foil, and place on a large cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 250F/120C/ Gas Mark 1/2.
Over low heat melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan. Once the butter is melted, increase the heat to medium, and  add half of marshmallows (4 cups/284 g).
Stirring the marshmallows
Stir until completed melted. Remove from heat and add half of the cereal  (6 cups/ 600 g). Stir until the cereal is completely combined. Dump into 13 x 9 (33 x 23 cm) pan. Butter your hands (trust me- a light coating a butter is a necessity) or a buttered spatula and spread until level.
This will be the base

Clean your saucepan and repeat. Spread onto foil.

We will make the house out of this block
Carefully cut the cereal mixture on the foil into the following pieces: four 5 by 3.5 inches (13 x 9 cm) (the sides) and two 8 x 3 inches (20 x 8 cm) (the roof). Take two of the side pieces and cut off the two corners to form a peak. To make the process easier, I made a pattern out of paper and used them as a template.

The baked pieces. The two small pieces were going to be a chimney 
There will be pieces left over you can use these to make chimney and trees. I ate them. Once the pieces are cut out, place on a greased cookie sheet, and bake for 20 minutes. Reshape the pieces as needed and cool.

To Assemble

Place the large base on a cookie sheet. (I covered it with sweetened grated coconut).

The base covered in coconut
Pipe a line of frosting where you are going to place the sides. Generously frost the sides and fit the house together.

Putting the house together requires a lot of frosting
Next frost the edges and place the roof.

Ready to add the roof
Add frosting to patch the holes.

Obviously, we had lots of holes

Finally decorate.

The bottom line: will we do this again? Yes- I think this has replaced the gingerbread house. I hope to have a better constructed house next year.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sautéed Sole in a Lemon Cream Sauce

Simply yummy- sole in lemon cream sauce
This is one of Katie's favorite dishes. We made it after we watched Julie and Julia which launched our all French food week. It was wonderful. We made some incredible dishes. My favorite was the braised chicken with tomatoes and olives. This dish was a lot easier to make. Our entire family is crazy about capers- if you don't like them, don't add them. I also like a bit of spice so I add a bit of Creole seasoning.

Sautéd Sole in a Lemon Cream Sauce

2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp of Oil
1/4 Cup (30 g) of Flour
1/4 Tsp of Salt
1/2 Tsp of Pepper
1/4 Tsp Creole Seasoning (Optional)
1-2 lbs (.45-.9 kg) of White Fish, Cut into 4 oz. Pieces
1 Cup (240 ml) of Fat Free Half and Half
Zest from a Lemon
Juice from Half of a Lemon
1 Tbsp of Chopped Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon of Capers

Melt butter and oil in a frying pan over medium heat. 

Butter melting in the frying pan

Dredge fish in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper. 

Frying fish

Place fish a couple pieces at a time in the frying pan (don't crowd). Depending on the thickness of the fish sauté for a couple of minutes to several minutes. When the fish is ready it is when it turns opaque. Remove fish to a plate and keep warm.

Making the cream sauce

To make the sauce add the half and half and lemon zest to the frying pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Serve the sauce over the fish and sprinkle capers on top.

The finished fish
The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes, I love this dish and Katie always asks for it. I will only make with a thin white fish.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cookie Brownies

Katie devouring a cookie brownie
I absolutely love these. They are one of my top ten favorites-- well, top twenty desserts. I have a lot of favorite desserts and they change order of preference depending on my mood. They are delicious and they are so easy to make. They are a layer of brownies with a layer of cookie on top. The brownies are then cooked and the result is incredible. I craved these for two to three weeks before I gave in and made them.
I usually make them with a boxed brownie mix and cookies from scratch. Any kind of brownie will work and I have used all kinds of drop cookies. I like chocolate chip and peanut butter.  Want something different? Reverse it and use blonde brownies and white choclate chip cookies.

Cookie Brownies

Preheat oven to 350F/176 C/ gas mark 4. Line a 9x13 inches (23 x 33 cm) baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Use enough so that paper/foil goes up the sides of the pan. Lightly grease the paper/foil.

Brownie Layer

Make your favorite brownie (make enough for a 9x13 pan). I like using a fudge brownie mix. If I am using a peanut butter cookie for the cookie layer (without chips), I put chocolate chunks or chips in the brownie batter.

Making brownies

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared pan.
Layer of brownie

Cookie Layer

Make your favorite cookie dough and drop into the top of the brownie layer.

Cookie layer
Bake for 35- 50 minutes until the middle is set. I like a gooier layer of cookie so I bake it for around 40 minutes. Cool.

Finished cookie brownies

If desired top with peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache, or melted chocolate chips.

Cookie brownie!

The bottom line: do I really need to ask it? Yes, I will make these again.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Convection Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

Finished fry
I have never been a huge fan of sweet potatoes until I had baked sweet potato fries. I loved them. Katie was not as crazy about them as I was. So I made her baked potato fries. Sweet potatoes are so good for you that I really did feel guilty that I did not like the sweet potato casserole that graces so many tables at Thanksgiving. Maybe I just didn't like the ubersweet marshmallow casserole. I do know that I love sweet potato fries. Who knew? The convection oven makes amazingly crispy fries. It is my choice for these fries. I actually like them better convection baked than fried. Katie does not like sweet potato fries so I made fries with a regular potato for her. Sprinkled with different spices and herbs to decide which I liked best. I liked the Jamaican Jerk spice mixture and Steven preferred the herbs. Katie prefers her potatoes (regular not sweet) with a sprinkling of salt.

Sweet Potato Fries

A Couple of Sweet Potatoes, Peeled and Sliced
Olive, Grape Seed, or Vegetable Oil
Kosher Salt, To Taste
Chopped Herbs
Spices (A spice mixture, freshly ground pepper, or your favorite spice)

Preheat convection oven to 425F/218C/ Gas Mark 7. Place sliced potatoes in a plastic bag with one to two tablespoons of oil and shake.  Note-- the thinner the potato slices, the quicker they will cook. You also want similar sized fries so they will bake evenly.
Sweet potato fries
After they are covered in oil, lay flat in one layer on a cookie sheet- leaving space between the potatoes. If you crowd the potatoes they won't be crispy. Sprinkle with spices or herbs. If you are using a one set of spices or herbs you may add them to the bag with the oil.

Getting ready for the oven

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, flip, and bake for 15 minutes longer. Baked for additional five minutes increments until desired level of crispiness is obtained.

Out of the oven

The bottom line: will I make these again? Yes, they are on the menu for Wednesday night dinner- along with a pork tenderloin with an onion red current relish.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Baked Eggs with Pullet Eggs

A baked egg.
I received some beautiful little pullet eggs from our CSA (community supported agriculture) and I wanted to do something special with them. It isn't every day that you get pullet eggs. What are they? Well, they are small eggs that are laid by chickens that are less than one year old. They are so small and so cute.

The pullet egg is on the left and the large eggs is on the right.
It took me a couple of days to figure out what to do with them. I decided I wanted baked eggs. I thought baked eggs would appropriately showcase the petite eggs. The last time I made baked eggs I had a terrible time cleaning the ramekins; so, I decided to make a version of toad in the hole. I had some lovely bakery hamburger buns and used them as my edible ramekins. If I was using large eggs, I would need to use large hamburger buns or maybe dinner rolls. As it turns out the hamburger buns were just the right size. I am on a Herbes de Provence kick so that's what I used but I usually use a sprinkling of fresh chopped herbs. For a healthier version, use whole wheat buns, fat-free half and half, and egg whites.

Baked Toad in the Hole

Butter or Margarine
Hamburger Bun (One to two per person)
Eggs (One per bun)
Cream or Half and Half
Herbes de Provence or Fresh Herbs, Chopped
Salt and Pepper, To Taste

Preheat your oven to 350F/176C/Gas Mark 4. Grease a cookie sheet (you don't want the buns to stick to the cookie sheet and they will because some of the cream is likely to escape). Carefully remove the center of the bun without breaking though the bottom. Butter the inside of the bun and place on the cookie tray. Repeat until all of the buns are buttered and on the tray.

Hollowed out buttered buns

One at a time, break the eggs into a bowl and pour into the center of each bun.

Pouring the egg into the center of the bun- it just fits.
Top off with a bit of cream. Sprinkle with the herbs and salt and pepper.

Ready for the oven
Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on whether you want a hard or runny yolk. For those who want a runny yolk, test to see if the white is set and take the eggs out of the oven. For those of you (like me) who can't stand runny eggs, jiggle the bun and if the yolks don't move you are set. For me, twenty-five minutes of baking resulted in perfectly cooked eggs.
The bottom line: will I make these agan?  Yes, I enjoyed these. I love the fact that I did not need to watch the eggs or worry over them. I was able to sit back, relax, and enjoy my morning coffee. Afterwards I had very few dishes to wash (well, for Katie to wash). Next time I may place some chopped tomato on the bottom or creamed spinach. The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Baked Cheesy Corn

Baked cheesy corn
I have very warm feelings towards cheesy corn. I first had it when I moved to Kansas City and visited the various barbecue restaurants. I began to rate the quality of cheesy corn and pulled pork I consumed at the various bbq dives. I also have very warm feelings towards dives. I began making my own pulled pork, spare ribs, and brisket and decided why not cheesy corn. Why? Because there is nothing healthy about cheesy corn and I will eat all of it. As I was perfecting the recipe, I ate it for dinner three nights in a row. I have now got the recipe just right and I need to take up running. But wow is it good and it is even better the next day.
I did lighten it by using light cream cheese and 1% milk. Low fat cheese would also work. I really like a hot pepper cheddar in this recipe (especially with the lower fat ingredients). I also use fresh corn (incredible) but if you don't have fresh, use frozen. I use diced ham in mine-- others use crumbled bacon and other people don't put any meat in at all. I can't imagine it with anything but ham. Yes, I do recommend you use Velveeta-it melts quickly and thickens the cheesy corn. You can change the flavor of the dish with the type of paprika you use. With regular cheedar cheese, I like a smoked paprika. If I use a spicy cheddar, I like a sweet paprika. If I use sharp cheddar, I like a spicy paprika. That is the nice this with this recipe, you can tailor it to you tatses.

Baked Cheesy Corn

5-6 Tbsp of Butter
4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup (60g) of Flour
3 Cups (720 ml) of Milk
4-6 oz (115g- 170g) of Diced Ham
4 oz (115g) of Velveeta
8 oz (225g) Block of Cheddar Cheese, Grated
4 oz (115g) Cream Cheese
1 Tsp of Paprika
Salt and Pepper
3 Cups (555 g) of Corn (About 5 ears)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5.  In a large sauce pan melt butter and garlic. Saute until fragrant (about one minute). Add flour and stir for about one minute. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Continue to whisk until it starts to thicken (a couple of minutes).

Stir in ham, cheeses, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined and smooth. Remove from heat and fold in corn. Pour into casserole dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

The bottom line will I make this again? Yes--It is tremendous served with pulled pork or spareribs. I have been known to eat it cold the next day all by itself (for breakfast or lunch).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tomato Tart

Tomato Tart
I love tomato pie. It is one of my all time favorites. One day for brunch I had a tomato tart with mustard. It was yummy. I decided to create my own tomato tart. It took a couple of tries and several mistakes but the result was great.  But you have to love mustard. I love mustard- I have all types of mustard.
I have made this tart with homemade pastry, phyllo, and store-bought pastry. I like all three -- in  time pinch I use store-bought dough. The important thing is to use a tart pan- not a pie pan. I tried using a pie pan (I could find my tart pan and was in a time crunch). It wasn't as good. So I recommend using a tart pan. For the herbs, I like basil, chives, oregano, and thyme.

9 or 10 Inch (20 or 25 cm) Pie Crust
1-2 Tbsp of Coarse Mustard
2-3 Tomatoes, Sliced
1-2 Tbsp of Chopped Herbs
2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
6-8 oz (170g - 225g) of Goat Cheese, Sliced
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 425F/218C/Gas Mark 7. Place pastry dough in a 9 or 10 inch (20 to 25 cm) tart pan. Spread mustard on the pastry dough and allow to dry (about 5 minutes).
Mustard yummy mustard
Meanwhile sliced tomatoes, herbs, and goat cheese. Place tomatoes on mustard and sprinkle with chopped herbs.
Adding sliced tomatoes
Drizzle with oil. Top with goat cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ready for the oven!
Bake for 20-30 minutes (watch closely because you don't want to over bake).
Finished tomato tart
The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes- incredible. I don't know which one I like better the tomato pie or the tomato tart.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rum Glazed Pan Sautéed Shrimp

Rum glazed shrimp on a bed of lettuce with nectarines
I have no idea why I decided that I had to have rum glazed shrimp. I know why it was pan sauteed and not grilled-- it is unbelievably hot outside. I probably could have cooked dinner on the sidewalk. Grilling was out of the question. I think I will grill this winter in the snow (truly-- be ready for the grilling recipes this winter when I am whining about the lack of summer tomatoes).  Note: You could use the same amount of glaze for a pound (.45 kg) of shrimp. Also the sugar is important- it helps the shrimp caramelize.

Rum Glaze

1/4 Cup (60 ml) of Rum (I used dark rum)
1/4 Cup (60 ml) of Lime Juice
2 Tbsp of Honey
1/2 Tsp of Ancho Chile, Chipotle, or Cayenne Pepper

Whisk the rum glaze ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.


2 Tbsp of Oil
1/2 Tsp of Sugar
Salt and Pepper, to Taste
1/2 lb (225 g) of Shrimp (Peeled)

Everything is ready to go
In the largest skillet you have, heat oil over high heat. Toss the shrimp with the sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp (you may have to make this in batches because if you crowd the shrimp they will steam). Saute the shrimp for one minute.
Sauteing shrimp
Remove from the heat and turn and saute for one more minute. If you are making in batches remove shrimp from pan and saute next batch. Return shrimp to pan and add rum glaze. Cover and cook until done (a couple of minutes depending on the size of the shrimp.
Almost ready for the glaze
Oh! I served them on a bed of lettuce with nectarine slices. Excellent!

The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes- I am ready to make this again the next night. This winter, I will try grilling the shrimp while basting with the glaze.