Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers- November

This months Daring Bakers challenge came from Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater. This caramel cake was quite delicious and a great addition to our Thanksgiving table. You can find Shuna's original recipe here.

I absolutely fell in love with the browned butter frosting. I may just keep this in my bag of tricks in the future.
This months host was Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity along with Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie Duo, Jenny of Foray into Food. And helping out with alternative baking, Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

this blog should really just be called 'of monkeys and soup'

Last night the Hubbs decided that he wanted to be in charge of dinner and I willingly let him have at it. He found a really nice and fairly easy recipe sweet potato and butternut squash soup here. He adapted it by using delicata squash because we had it on hand and they are wicked yummy and easy to work with due to their petite size. While I can take virtually no credit for this dinner except for grabbing a few things at the Coop, I am very much looking forward to the leftovers for dinner this evening.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chicken Soup for the Hubbs Cold

The Hubbs has come down with a doozy of a cold and in an effort to get him on the mend I created what turned out to be a very hearty and tasty soup. This is not a light broth to be daintily slurped before your main, this is the main. It is also fairly quick as far as soups go, but I did take a few short cuts along the way.

Roasted Garlic Chicken Soup with Israeli Couscous

1 head garlic
1 medium onion
2-3 good sized carrots
2-3 stalks of celery (helery)
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (I used the dark meat from a rotisserie chicken)
5-6 cups organic free range low sodium chicken broth (or whatever you prefer)
1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous
Couple hand fulls baby spinach
Few hearty shakes of turmeric
olive oil

Slice the top part of the garlic off drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt and wrap in foil. Set this in an oven/toaster oven at 400 degrees and let it roast while you get going on the rest.

Get a nice relatively small chop going for the onion, carrot, and celery (helery) and place it in a soup pot on medium with a little bit of olive oil till they are tender and getting translucent. Once they are softened add broth and bring to a slight boil. Once boiling add the couscous and turmeric and let simmer for about 10 minutes. After ten minutes add in your shredded chicken and heat through. At this point your couscous should be cooked and tender and your garlic should be nice and soft. If its not just keep the soup on low and give it a few. When the garlic is roasty and tender squeeze out the cloves (mash them a bit if you need to)into the soup and give it a nice stir. Add a few handfuls of baby spinach and mix it up till wilted and add a bit of salt if needed.

This was hearty on day one and virtually solid in the fridge, you can add a bit of water or broth to loosen it up, but once heated it was a bit less thick.

I would love to say that after three servings of this over the weekend he was totally cured.... but you can't say it didn't help a little.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I rule.....

This is the new kitchen cart that is now living in our home. I love it. I put her together with my own awesome, flat-pack mastering hands. We had been putting off this purchase since we moved in in July, but I had officially had enough of the drop-leaf table that the microwave had been living on. Behold. She is beautiful and now we have a place for the crock-pot and the growlers waiting to be filled at our local brewery.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Indian Food Extravaganza

While the Hubbs was away it was not a really robust cooking time. I am very good at making dinner for others but if left to my own devices I tend to get hungry and rationalize that eggs and toast or cereal is a perfectly acceptable dinner. So in anticipation of his return I started making a list of things that I would want to make. First up was Chicken Tikka Masala. This turned into a rather large dinner because I ended up getting antsy and just kept cooking. The full menu included:
Chicken Tikka Masala
Spicy Chickpeas with Tomatoes
Apple Ginger Chutney
Brown Rice
Oh.... and some wine

We had a friend over so this was not just for us, and we had a good amount left over as well. I am not going to include the recipe for the chickpeas because while good, nothing really worth writing home about.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from about 75 different versions of this dish.....

The day before set up the chicken to marinate
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
bit over a cup of thick natural yogurt (I used whole milk Greek Fage)
1 t fresh ginger, minced
2 t ground cumin
1 t ground cinnamon
2 t chili powder
2 t fresh cracked pepper

Mix everything together and let it hang out in the fridge over night.

On feasting day:

Tomato sauce/gravy

14 oz can of diced tomatoes tomatoes, juice included
2-3 T Greek Fage plus 5 oz of evaporated skim milk- this replaces the heavy cream that is in most recipes.
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red chilies, finely chopped
2 t ground cumin
2 t gram masala
1 t ground coriander
1-2 t chili powder
1 t ghee or clarified butter
Salt and pepper

Place chicken bits on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees till cooked through. You can also skewer these and make them on the grill if you would like.

While the chicken is cooking get started on the sauce. Heat a large skillet to medium and melt the ghee/clarified butter. Sauté the garlic and chopped chilies until fragrant. Add the spices and mix till it coats the garlic and peppers and gets a little pasty.

Pour in the canned tomatoes and mix well to get all of the spicy bits mixed in. Simmer uncovered for approx. 10-15 minutes on low heat until the sauces begins to thicken, then add the grilled chicken pieces and yogurt/condensed milk. Simmer for a further 10 minutes, thickening the sauce further and to heat the chicken and cream through.

Apple Ginger Chutney

1 T ghee/clarified butter
1/2 c chopped onion
2 good sized apples, peeled and chopped (I used honey crisp)
2 T minced fresh ginger
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 T Cornstarch
2 T water

In a saucepan melt the ghee/clarified butter then add onions and cook till they start to get soft and a bit brown. Add in the apples and ginger and cook for a few minutes then add vinegar and sugar. Bring the whole shebang to a boil. Make a slurry of the cornstarch and water, add it to the saucepan. bring it back to a boil and cook, stirring constantly for about 4-5 minutes. Chill and serve.

Lastly we made Naan. This was really good, not restaurant quality but definitely good given we were making it on the stove top not a clay oven. We used the basic dough recipe from Artisan Bread in Five minutes a Day and followed their recipe. Just go buy the book, it is great.

And thank you to Joe, who came over and enjoyed this meal with us!

Home made yogurt and granola

After seeing Stephanie's post at A Year of CrockPotting on making yogurt in your crock pot I was very intrigued. For her great post and instructions, including cost analysis click here.
I opted to use fancy-schmancy full-fat Greek fage for my active-culture add-in. I also used local whole milk and I really think that the high quality ingredients really made a difference. I did not add the gelatin and was perfectly happy with the thickness and consistency. It is really tasty. If you have been punishing yourself eating fat-free yogurt, or even grosser, fat-free/sugar-free yogurt allow yourself this pleasure. It does not need to be homemade, Stonyfield makes a tasty one, just give it a try. I converted about six months ago and it is well worth the extra calories. As a plus, it is so yummy you can pretty much eat it plain without 16 teaspoons of sugar dumped in to make it mildly palatable.

That said, to offset the milk fats (mmmmmm, milk fats) you can sprinkle a bit of this on top.

Quick and Healthy Granola
3 cups oats (quick or original- skip the instant)
1/2 cup roughly chopped nuts (I used almonds and walnuts)
1 T cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2-3 T agave nectar
splash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the oats, nuts, cinnamon, and ginger in a good-sized bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add wet ingredients to the oat mixture and combine well. Spread granola on to a foil-lined cookie sheet/jellyroll pan that has been sprayed with a bit of cooking spray. Pot it in the oven for 30-40 minutes giving it a stir every now and again.

This is not a super sweet, decadent granola. But lets face it granola, while often very delicious falls into the category of "comically unhealthy" foods that are disguised as health food.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Keeping a Promise

A friend, and far superior blogger, had some fears and apprehensions as election day finally arrived.

You can read his words here

I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I tucked into this breakfast a few minutes ago.

I am glad that we are all in a world were we will be able to enjoy bacon-y goodness.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Oh, Yeah


I am sure that the three or possibly four of my friends that look at this were at the polls bright and early, but just in case.....