18 February, 2014  |   4 Comments

Slow Cooker Lemongrass Thai Beef Recipe

We put our own slow cooker twist on this fantastic recipe from Bon Appetit. Slow cookery Thai goodness — and customizable to boot — making it perfect for picky guests.

This recipe is a departure from our more “Americanny” slow cooker recipes, but with the rice noodles and the peanuts, we’ve got ourselves our very own tasty treat. Only confirming my theory that food processors make every food better, this recipe uses the magic machine for good. Make a dry pastey mix that covers the beef while it bubbles away in the slow cooker.

If rice noodles aren’t your thing, for you Paleo people, this is great in a lettuce wrap.

Ingredients
4 lemongrass stalks, ends trimmed and outsides peeled
4 cloves garlic chopped small
1 lime’s worth of juice (recipe calls for 4 kaffir lime leaves, but I don’t know where to find those)
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger (about 1 inch of ginger)
1 jalapeno, chopped
3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into two inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 whole star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
8 oz. wide rice noodles
6 scallions, sliced into tiny rings
Lime wedges
1/2 cup smashed peanuts
Chopped cilantro

Directions
Take out your trusty food processor Process lemongrass, garlic, lime juice (or kaffir lime leaves), ginger, and jalapeno in a food processor until it gets like paste.

Salt and pepper the beef chunks. Brown the meat in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat, 10–15 minutes. Put the meat on a plate.

Add the lemongrass paste to the same pot you cooked the beef in, stirring often, until lemongrass gets soft, 5–8 minutes. Add star anise, cinnamon, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and beef with any juices. Add the beef and lemongrass mixture to the slow cooker. Add about 4-6 cups water. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.

Right before serving, cook rice noodles.

Serve with lime wedges, smashed peanuts, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro and Sriacha sauce.

The recipe says this can be made 3 days ahead and saved for later. I believe it.

Thai lemongrass beef is good for you

Bon appetit indeed.

13 February, 2014  |   5 Comments

Recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Chili

Despite this being a slow cooker meal, there is a minor bit of finagling in this recipe.

Finagle.
It’s the word of my month.
February Finagling.

This entire month feels fussy, like the end of this recipe when you retrieve the chicken thighs from the chili, remove the skin and shred the chicken off the bone.

Between taxes, work, 40 handmade valentines (Insert Meaningful Look), weather that’s a drag and random childcare outages, the February Finagle is ON.

Good thing we have this cheap slow cooker black bean and chicken chili to come home to.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Chili

P.S. Sorry Pinterest. I tried a bunch of photos but they all looked gross. Good thing it tastes something awesome.

Great thing about this recipe, if you’re squeezed for time in the morning, you can prepare the whole mess the night before. Soak the black beans and add the ingredients (except the stock) to a large storage bag. In the morning of the day you’re cookin’, dump the bag into the slow cooker and call it a day. Or the beginning of a day.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Chili

Ingredients
16 ounces dried black beans
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped small
1 onion, chopped small
6 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons oregano
6 chicken thighs – 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper to sprinkle over the thigh meat
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Fixins
Mild Cheddar, shredded
Cilantro, destemmed and chopped
Green Onions, chopped small
Tortilla chips
Sour Cream
Hot sauce to taste

Directions
Right before you go to bed on the night before you want to make the chili, soak the black beans. Put the beans in a large bowl, fill the bowl with water up to about 1-2″ over the beans. Let the beans soak until the next morning.

The day of the cooking, drain and rinse the beans. Put them in the slow cooker.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, garlic, onion, chili powder, bay leaves, cumin, oregano and stir the mix together.

Peel the skin back from the chicken thighs. Salt and pepper the thigh meat. Cover the thigh meat back up with the skin. Set the chicken thighs on top of the bean mixture.

Turn slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours, if you can, stir through every 2 hours. If you can’t, that’s okay, I love you just the same.

Roughly 1 hour before serving, remove the thighs from the chili, shaking off any beans that stuck to the skin. Set the thighs carefully on a cutting board, let cool for about 15 minutes.

After they’re not going to burn you, peel the skin off of the thighs. Then, pull the meat off the bone and set aside. Chop the chicken into bits. Then, stir the chicken back through the slow cooker. Add the salt.

Just before serving, chop and set out all the fixins.

My bowl of chili has cheese, sour cream, green onions, cilantro and a splash of Cholula (proudly served at Dennys! Your bowl will probably look a little different.

(But I bet it’ll be super tasty.)

Do you like my beautiful eye shadow? I put it on to model this delicious bowl of Black Bean Chicken Slow Cooker Chili

10 February, 2014  |   2 Comments

80′s Stuffed Chicken Recipe

Sun dried tomato and feta stuffed chicken breasts

One of the perks of being a dissatisfied child of the 1980′s was the development of a rich fantasy life.

My fantasy life included dreaming of my life as a Baby Boom Keaton, a thirtysomething striver.

The oldest 10 year old in the universe, I dreamed of a career in advertising, of arguments with my handsome, of my bearded husband and dinner parties where everyone told the truth.
(P.S. Go me!)

Thirtysomething cast photo. I never saw the show but I was obsessed with the lifestyle.

Some of the most exciting parts of all that dreaming included the introduction of sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese as mainstream ingredients. Add them to bagels! Add them to your mixed green salads! They’re exotic! They’re for yuppies!

As always, eager to jump on culinary trends, this was one of the first dishes I made on my own.

80′s Stuffed Chicken Recipe

Ingredients
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stuffing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 cups bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup of sun dried tomatoes, chopped small
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Directions
Pound the chicken breasts to a uniform 1/2 inch thickness. Salt and pepper them on the inside with 1/2 the pepper and 1/2 the salt (1/2 tsp, 1/2 tsp). Fold in half and put on a cookie sheet, set in the fridge while you make the stuffing.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and the olive oil over medium high heat until they start to bubble, add the chopped onion and stir through – keep stirring for about 3 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent.

Add bread crumbs, stir through.
Add the garlic, stir through.
Add the sun dried tomatoes, stir through.
Add the salt, oregano and red pepper flakes and stir those through too.

When the bread crumbs are a nice toasty brown color (about 5 minutes), turn off the heat and let mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Then stir through the shredded Parmesan cheese and the crumbled Feta cheese.

Take the chicken breasts out of the fridge. Unfold each breast, put about 3/4 cup of the stuffing mixture into the middle, and then fold the rest of the breast over the top of the stuffing. Put back in the fridge.

Wash out the pan you made the stuffing in (any extra stuffing is yours, by the way)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Over medium-high heat, melt the other 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in the large, clean sauté pan.

Remove as many chicken breasts from the baking sheet that fit comfortably in the saute pan and put them in the sauté pan.

Closeup view of 80's Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Brown the stuffed chicken on each side, being careful not to spill too much stuffing out of the folded breast. It’s a little bit of a messy process, but it’s worth it.

Clean off the baking sheet and cover it with foil.

When the chicken breasts are browned, put them on the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes.

After I put the chicken breasts in the oven, I heat up water to cook the angel hair pasta I serve alongside. (And now I have The Angel Song in my head. Thanks Great White.)

We served 80s Stuffed Chicken Breasts with this Girard Sauvignon Blanc. But I bet a light red would have also done the trick.
2012 Girard Sauvignon Blanc

My handsome bearded husband put on the Diana Krall Pandora Station, because there’s something about lady jazz that screams sophisticated eighties dinner party.

Truly, a testimony to knowing what you want out of life.

Pinot, no, you can’t have any.
Pinot wants to get some food. Nope. Nuh uh.

Happy 80′s Stuffed Chicken Day!
80's Stuffed Chicken Recipe

28 January, 2014  |   7 Comments

Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

We also call this Mama's Mac and Cheese

I first made this macaroni and cheese recipe from the Gourmet magazine cookbook for bocce.

It was eaten in minutes.

Emboldened by its success, I made it for the first winery job potluck.

I’d put myself under some stress for that potluck. I mean, they have a work chef! I wanted to avoid embarrassing myself in front of all the culinary experts.

My nerves had been for naught. I had no idea the speed at which this cheesy, noodley casserole would be consumed. Coworkers congratulated me for the whole rest of the week, cheering my brilliant addition to the potluck table.

And now you can p0wn your next potluck table too.

Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients
16 ounces pasta shells (I like shells, some like the elbows)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
4 cups shredded cheese (I like sharp cheddar mixed with medium cheddar)
3/4 cup cream
1 cup reserved pasta water

Topping
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup shredded cheese

Directions
Boil water for the pasta.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Shred the 5 cups of cheese,  set one cup of shredded cheese aside. Make bread crumbs.

In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir with a whisk. It will make a strange lumpy wad of a thing. This is the base for the roux. Keep stirring for 3 minutes.

In a thin stream, add the whole milk and the red pepper flakes, whisking all the while until the mix makes a thinnish sauce. Stir in the mustard, cheese and cream. Turn off the heat.

If the water’s boiling, cook the pasta. Save 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce — stir through. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water and stir through — the whole thing should be a little loose. Add more water if the mixture seems too firm.

In a small bowl, put bread crumbs, melted butter, and stir through final cup of cheese.

Add the cheesy pasta to the baking dish. Sprinkle the buttery, cheesy breadcrumbs atop the macaroni and cheese.

Throw the whole dish into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning the dish once to ensure even baking.

This macaroni and cheese is the first thing to go at potlucks.

I like to make double and freeze it for James to toss in the oven when I’m working late in the oven. The kids go nuts for it and he gets super-supper bragging rights.

Now go grab YOUR super supper bragging rights!

 

23 January, 2014  |   5 Comments

Frodo Risotto Recipe for a Hobbit Dinner

We love Frodo Baggins.We made a hobbit dinner the other night.
James and I love Frodo. Bilbo too. We are Hobbits at heart.

Secure in our snuggly Shire home, we welcome any old man with fireworks to entertain the children.
The barefoot, mildly wild children.

And they all eat Frodo Risotto.

This is Frodo Risotto. It's a baked risotto.

We served Frodo Risotto with local Shire greens.
And some roast game (chicken).

Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe, this risotto bakes in the oven while you catch up with cousin Frieda Baggins about what’s causing the rabbit shortage.

Ingredients
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced about 1/2″ (Probably about 2 cups diced squash)
3 cups arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine (For cooking, I like Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional:
Oil for frying the sage
10 sage leaves

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cate Blanchette, Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien, will try to scarysexy you into giving her your ring but don’t you let her.

Elvin Butternut Squash.

To avoid all risk, you probably should skin her and chop half of her into tiny bits.

Peeled Elvin (Elvish?) Butternut Squash.

You can mince Samwise Gamgee into tiny bits while you’re at it too.

Nooooooo Frodoooooo

Mix the first seven ingredients in a 9″ x 12″ baking dish.
Combine, being careful not to slosh.

Something lives beneath the surface of that salty lake.\

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and put in oven for 1 hour.

30 minutes into the baking time, take off the foil and stir it. You will be disappointed by the lack of progress. But hold tight, little hobbit, your dinner is right on plan.

This is when I would fry up the sage.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, frizzle the sage in there until crispy, only a minute or two. Remove and drain on paper towels

After an hour, remove the baking dish from the oven.
Stir through the two tablespoons of butter and Parmesan cheese.
Stir through 7 leaves worth of crumbled fried sage.

Garnish with the remaining 3 leaves.

Serve.
And watch out for fireworks.

Welcome all old men carrying fireworks

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