Creamy Pesto Dressing
Adapted from Savory Sweet Life
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
Add buttermilk, sour cream, mayo, and pesto to a bowl. Whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Parmesan Chicken Breasts
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Heat oven to 450 degrees and line a half sheet pan with foil. Place chicken breasts on the prepared pan. In a medium bowl, combine the parmesan, panko, salt, and olive oil. Pat the panko topping onto the chicken and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the topping has browned.
Used to be that when a recipe called for 8 ounces of pasta, I could just measure out half a box and be done. Not anymore. Have you noticed how with many of the things we buy, like pasta, ice cream, and coffee, you don’t get as much as you used to? But you’re still paying the same price.
The packages haven’t changed so much that you notice you’re being shorted. But look closely. That box of Barilla Penne that I picked up at the store? It’s 14 ounces instead of 16. And your cup of yogurt, is it still 8 ounces or have they sold you 6 ounces for the same price?
The Washington Post recently mentioned this trend. For me, it’s an annoyance, an inconvenience. If I’m making a dish that needs a cup of yogurt I have to choose between buying a second container and having more than I need or possibly throwing the recipe off because I don’t have enough. My kitchen is small. I don’t have the room to store cans and jars and boxes that I wouldn’t need to buy if it weren’t for this shrinkage.
Why are we being forced to make this decision? Blame it on the companies for wanting to make more money. Blame it on the grocery stores for trying to find higher profit margins. Blame it on consumers for not noticing the changes. We’re all to blame. But it still feels sneaky.
How do you feel about it? Are you ok with products being downsized while still paying the same price or would you prefer to pay a little more to get the old “standard” sizes?
Bruce and Mark’s Honey Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Light The Complete Quick Cook
Heat the oven to 475 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
While the oven heats, combine the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and salt in a small bowl. Place the chicken thighs in a large bowl and coat completely with the spice mixture. Transfer the thighs to the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 10 minutes then carefully turn the thighs over and cook on the other side for another to 10 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, combine the honey and vinegar in a small bowl. After the chicken has cooked on both sides, baste with the honey mixture. Cook for 5 minutes before turning the chicken over, basting with the remaining honey mixture and cooking for another 5 minutes
Pork with Apples and Shallots
Adapted from Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris
Bring 3 cups of cider, salt, pepper, and coriander to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the ice, and cool completely. Transfer the brine to a large zip top bag, add the pork loin, and refrigerate for 8 hours.
30 to 45 minutes before you’re ready to cook, remove the pork from the brine, dry with paper towels, and let sit at room temperature.
When ready to cook, heat the oven to 375 degrees and melt the butter and oil over medium heat in a large oven safe frying pan or dutch oven. Add the pork and brown it on all sides. Transfer the pork to a platter and cook the shallots and apples for 5 to 10 minutes until they begin to brown lighly.
Return the pork to the pan, add the remaining 1 cup of apple cider, and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the pork registers 155 degrees. Transfer the pork to your serving platter and cover with foil for 10 minutes.
Return the pan to the stove top, add the bourbon (if using), and allow the sauce to reduce slightly. Whisk in the mustard, add salt and pepper to taste, and thin with additional apple cider if desired.
Serve slices of the pork topped with the apple shallot sauce.
I seem to have hit an all new low with regards to trashy reality television. Why? Because despite having way too many channels of programming to choose from, I found myself unable to look away from VH-1′s Charm School. Here’s how it happened. It was a Sunday afternoon and we had plans for later in the day right around supper time. Since dinner at home was out, we were going old school with supper. You know supper, that earlier version of dinner or later version of lunch.
I like supper to be easy and fuss free. Heck, I like most things to be easy and fuss free, this is just one example. Our menu was Bon Appetit’s Mustard Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli Slaw from Smitten Kitchen. The broccoli had been slawed and the shrimp was chilling in its mustard bath in the fridge. So I had at least an hour before I had to be back in the kitchen. Flipping through the tv guide, anything that looked promising had either already started or wasn’t on till after we’d leave. I know, I could have just picked up a book. Or folded laundry. Or scrubbed the toilet. Any of those would have been more productive and satisfying than the trainwreck that is Charm School.
The premise is to take a group of women who express a desire to change their lives for the better and put them to the task of doing so. Those who excel make the Dean’s List. Those who don’t go to Detention and may be Expelled. So they basically take a bunch of insecure women and put them in a group living situation with copious amounts of alcohol at their disposal. What do you think happens? People get ugly, petty. It’s every bad day you ever had in middle school only with tequila. That’s a hot mess.
And group dynamics take over. It’s like watching a pride of lions hunt prey as the dominant ones band together to single out the weaker ones. You want to look away as the weakling gets pulled away from the herd and slaughtered. Really, you do. But you can’t. It’s that powerful.
I’m all for self improvement. Sometimes all it takes is changing the channel.
Adapted from smittenkitchen
Combine the broccoli with the cranberries and onion in a bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a separate small bowl. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour approximately half of the dressing over the broccoli and mix to combine. If the slaw is not moist enough, add additional dressing to taste.
Keeps for up to a week in the fridge.
Puff Pastry Quiche
Adapted from Pam Anderson’s Meatless Meals
BAH Note: Feel free to use just about any vegetable. Pam suggests sliced mushrooms, halved cherry tomatoes, thin asparagus, diced leeks, or even thawed frozen spinach.
Place oven racks in the top and bottom position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface until it is just larger than a 1/4 sheet pan. Transfer the puff pastry to the sheet pan, trimming off any overhang, and docking the pastry all over with a fork.
Spread the butter braised onions, or vegetable of your choice, into a single layer on the pastry. Bake on the bottom oven rack for 10 to 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.
While the puff pastry bakes, heat the evaporated milk until it is just warmed. In a separate bowl, use a fork to beat together the eggs, salt, pepper, thyme, and sour cream. Once the egg mixture is completely combined, stir in some of the warmed evaporated milk, about a tablespoon at a time, to temper the egg mixture. Whisk the rest of the evaporated milk into the egg mixture before pouring the egg and milk mixture into the puff pastry and evenly sprinkling the cheese on top.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and place the sheet pan on the top rack. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the egg filling is just set. Then set the oven to broil and allow the top of the quiche to brown for about 2 minutes.
Allow the quiche to cool slightly before serving.
Mushroom and Spinach Risotto
Adapted from Cooking Know How
BAH Note: Leftover risotto can easily be reheated in the microwave. For a single serving, add a tiny bit of butter to the risotto and cook for about 3 minutes on 50% – 60% power.
Place the 7 cups of chicken broth in a pot over low heat to warm.
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is beginning to soften. Stir in the sliced mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the rice to the dutch oven and stir to coat the rice completely in the olive oil before adding 1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has reduced almost completely.
Reduce the flame under the dutch oven to medium low and add the warmed chicken broth in 2/3 cup increments, gently stirring and allowing most of the liquid to cook down in between additions.
After about 30 minutes, start tasting for doneness. You want the rice to become tender but still have a little bit of chew to it. When the rice is chewy-tender, stir in the baby spinach and stir to allow the leaves to wilt and combine with the rice.
Remove the dutch oven from the heat and stir in 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt and black pepper to taste before serving.
After the underwhelming outcome of my egg experiment, I wanted to give it another try. So I tasked my friend Google to see what other recipes were out there. The short answer is a lot. Most of the ones that I found involved baking the eggs in the oven. But there was one from Williams Sonoma that was more like a poached egg. I liked that approach because poaching, as a gentler cooking method, gives me a little more wiggle room before I go from raw to rubber.
Now, if you’ve ever looked at the recipes in the Williams Sonoma catalog, they are basically vehicles to get you to buy their wares. And I’m sure the fancy-schmancy Breakfast Pan that is specified in the Eggs en Cocotte recipe is the bomb, but a little reverse engineering with a large sauce pan and some glass ramekins worked just fine and didn’t cost me $175.
So I made myself a nice water bath on the stove and got cracking. Unlike last time, I was pretty vigilant about checking the progress of my eggs. Since I was using improvised tools, my cooking times were slightly longer than what the folks at WS said to expect. But that’s ok because after about 15 minutes (10 minutes on the heat, 5 minutes off) the whites were perfectly cooked, the yolks were firm but still soft and creamy, and the cheese had melted into the eggs and ham. I tried to get one of the eggs out of the ramekin and onto a plate can state with all certainty that eating it directly out of the ramekin is a much better idea.
Another good idea? Don’t think that this is just for breakfast or brunch. I think Eggs en Cocotte, as WS likes to call them, is a great dinner option especially if you’re cooking for just one person.
Eggs en Cocotte
Adapted from williams-sonoma.com
I easily made two individual servings in a 4 quart sauce pan on the stove. If I were cooking more than four ramekins, I would probably put the whole thing in a large roasting pan, filled with simmering water to reach halfway up the ramekins, and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Fill a large sauce pan with water (I put my ramekins in the pan, added enough water to reach halfway up them, and then removed the ramekins). Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low.
Lightly coat ramekins with olive oil or butter. Put 1 tablespoon diced bacon or ham in the bottom of each and top with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Break one egg into each ramekin and top with 2 teaspoons cream and 1 additional teaspoon cheese.
Place the ramekins in the simmering water. Cover and cook until whites and yolks are set. The recipe said 6 to 7 minutes for runny yolks and 9 to 10 minutes for firmer ones. Don’t be afraid to test the whites with a fork because after 10 minutes the whites were not cooked. So I let the pan sit, covered, off the heat for another five minutes or so until the whites had cooked and the yolks were soft set.
Carefully remove the ramekins from the pan, season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Serve immediately.
Turmeric Chicken with Basmati Rice
Adapted from a website that my dial up connection took me to back in the early days of the internet. My apologies for not being able to credit an actual source.
BAH Note: IF I recall correctly, this recipe was part of some Cooking For One feature…maybe in the Baltimore Sun or Washington Post. I found it back in my days of when I was cooking for one. But it is beyond easy to scale it up to serve however many mouths you’ve got to feed. The ratios I use below makes enough for The Mistah and I and have leftovers.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Melt the butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, approximately 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, lemon juice, currants, and chutney and stir to thoroughly combine. Place the chicken pieces in the dutch oven and use tongs or your hands to completely coat them in the onion mixture. Add the rice and hot chicken broth to the pot, cover, and place in the oven.
Bake for 60 – 90 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice has softened.