Thursday, March 31, 2011
There are some flavors you’d never dream of experiencing together. Bacon and maple syrup were one of those combinations -- until I tried bacon wrapped shrimp with maple syrup at a restaurant. Something about the meaty taste of the bacon mingled with maple sweetness is beyond delicious. So last night, as part of my ongoing quest to get creative in the kitchen, I made a brave attempt to use the two to liven up a chicken breast. I sautéed the chicken in a pan for about 15 minutes, realizing as I did so that the bacon was getting a bit burnt. It occurred to me that this is a recipe better suited for the oven. For a trial run, though, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Take it from me, bacon and maple syrup belong with more than just breakfast!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
A quick Google search led me to this easy recipe for mushroom risotto from The Food Network’s website. I opted to substitute chicken stock with vegetable stock, a choice which I think might have affected the flavor.
Though the consistency turned out just fine, I must confess that my end result seemed to be missing a little something -- except when I took a bite that included mushrooms. Then…delicious! So, definitely don’t scrimp on the funghi with this recipe. More is more here, and I can’t say enough about that since my little modification of the recipe wasn’t exactly a soaring success.
Never I have been so thankful for the redemptive power of a simple mushroom!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
One of the best culinary tips I’ve received was from my fabulous sister-in-law Barb -- get a crock pot. What better way to quiet the single gal’s popular refrain of I don’t have time to cook?
It was with great glee -- and the delight of a contented bargain shopper -- that I purchased my Crock Pot Classic for just $20. I was equally excited to discover my new gadget came with a booklet of recipes, including one for meatloaf.
For a neophyte chef, meatloaf can feel like a daunting proposition, what with having to make sure you achieve the right consistency, etc. A crock pot mercifully removes the guesswork, so I excitedly followed directions here.
1 ½ pounds of lean ground beef
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup ketchup
½ cup chopped onion
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
The recipe also called for 8 slices of cheddar or American cheese. I opted for shredded low-fat mozzarella instead and can honestly say I didn’t miss the fattier variety. After mixing all of the ingredients (minus the cheese and tomato paste) in a bowl, shape half the meat mixture into a loaf. Arrange cheese on meat then top with remaining meat. Top with tomato paste and cook on low (6 to 8 hours) or high (3 to 4 hours).
The result? A deliciously moist, flavorful meatloaf -- softer than what you’d get from an oven version but without scrimping any on taste. Mmm!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Along with arroz con pollo (he was Ecuador-born), one of his signature dishes was homemade vanilla pudding. I have many fond memories of standing beside him as he stirred the pot, then allowed me to taste test with a big wooden spoon. To this day, it remains one of my favorite desserts -- simple to make, heavenly to eat. Here’s the recipe:
Mix the following in a blender:
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons of Argo corn starch
Like I said -- heavenly!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
One of my favorite things to do is shred bell peppers (both red and green) and onions in the blender -- like I did before topping off the above chicken breast and baking it in the oven.
Yes, this duo never disappoints no matter what dish I throw them into. They enliven, not to mention the glorious aroma that comes when you give them a little fire in the pan. In a word, yum!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I chopped half a chicken breast into small pieces and threw it into a saucepan with some white rice. Drizzled into the mix -- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a hint of cooking white wine, diced onions and chopped green pepper. A sprinkling of ground pepper went a long way toward giving the chicken a little zest. Who knew mixing pepper varieties in one dish could be so much fun?
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ingredients included the usual staples for this beloved dish -- olive oil, chopped onions, carrots, celery, red wine, diced bacon and, of course, lean ground beef.
Little did I know when I posted my accomplishment on Facebook that it would ignite a firestorm of debate. Several of my good friends went back and forth about whether cream is or is not part of an authentic Bolognese sauce. Two of Italian descent said no way, though one managed to unearth a Wikipedia recipe that included….milk.
“Cream is for carbonara or penne in vodka sauce,” opined my friend Liz. “It doesn't belong anywhere near a Bolognese!”
Cream or not, I love me some Bolognese.
This year, though, at the tender age of 37, I've decided it’s time for me to use my kitchen for more than microwaving. Actress Billie Burke (best known as Glinda in “The Wizard of Oz”) once said age is something that doesn’t matter unless you are a cheese. Bearing that optimism in mind, I’m on a mission to develop my culinary skills as a neophyte chef. Hope you’ll join me in the adventure.