Sunday, September 18, 2011

Just and Aside

Take sliced turkey and sharp cheddar cheese and put it on either side of a leftover hamburger bun. Run it under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and the turkey is warm. Remove from the oven and add shredded lettuce and tomato slices. Douse with Come Back Sauce. Can you say delicious?

Let me say again, I will always keep that sauce in the fridge!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Childhood Redoux

Tonight was another of those kinda frantic meal prep nights. It may have been caused by my total lack of prior preparation , but I doubt it. I think the convergence of spices in my cabinet and the electrical pulses from the fridge created some break in the space time continuum, causing me to run to the Pig at nearly 7:30 to gather the ingredients for the impending dinner. At least that is the story I am sticking with.

I had no idea what to cook tonight but whatever it was had to be easy and preferably something I had on hand, but then I remembered I don't keep real food on hand. If you want a can of coconut milk or some red curry paste, call me and I can hook you up. Want capers packed in salt? Got it covered! Going to die if you don't have immediate access to food grade lavender? I am your go to guy. I have 10 pounds of flour always, at least 5 pounds of sugar. Every condiment known to man is at my disposal, but...Need lettuce? Thawed meats or chicken? Fresh beans? Uh not likely to have it.

I admit I love the European method of daily shopping and would love to walk 2 blocks with my little basket and wind through the local shops to gather what I need for the day, instead of driving to Publix or the Pig and pushing a huge grocery cart through the store. It begs to be filled so I do my duty and start filling. Oh Rice a Roni is bogo. I must get it even though we don't like it. Cheeze It's the same buy one get one thing. Into the basket they go and I am happy as a clam until I have a nearly full cart and realize I still don't have a blooming thing for supper.

Tonight I went with an actual list and discovered something amazing. If i have a list and it's late I buy only what is on the list. Well what was on the list plus a pack of pork chops because they were pretty and on sale. Prior to hitting the store I did an emergency quick cookbook look -see. The first book I pulled out ( without even looking at the cover was the Emeril Lagasse cookbook "There's a Chef in My Family" . It was bought several years ago when Son3 was first learning to be self sufficient. I spent about 2 minutes looking through it and found a quick simple recipe that I have never made before. Trust me, I have made Chicken parm often but it has always been a traditional "pound the breasts into cutlets, bread and saute" type thing. This was a cleaner, easier version of the old standard.

Emeril Lagasse's kid friend version Chicken Parmesan Emeril Style .

4 boneless Chicken breasts
2 teaspoons Baby Bam
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 C. Emerils Kicked up tomato sauce or jar of your favorite brand
of red pasta sauce ( Duh make it or buy it? Buy!)
1/4 lb. Mozzarella cheese cut into 4 equal portions ( 4 slices of already sliced mozzarella)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese ( again the green cylinder stuff)

!/2 lb cooked fettuccine

preheat over to broil

Season each chicken breast with the Baby Bam* (Dorky herb blend with no heat so little people can think they have something special.) I opted for traditional Italian herbs and salt but you choose what you want. Heat the olive oil in an oven safe saute pan and warm over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook on one side for about 4 minutes. Turn it and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes.put about 1/4 cup of the red sauce on each chicken breast and top it with the mozzarella cheese. Then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Run it under the broiler for about 3 minutes until the cheeses are hot and bubbly.

Serve over the cooked fettuccine with a side salad and garlic bread.

To be honest this tasted pretty good. Insead of the baby bam, I threw some finely chopped fresh basil, some oregano, minced garlic, salt and pepper on the chicken before sauteing. I used Classico tomato and basil sauce because we like it. It is not sweet and is full of flavor. We all thought the mozzarella was overkill and will leave ti off next time, but the Parmesan melted then had a few crispy bits at the edges. It was very good . This might one of those meals that you should always have the ingredients on hand. I will make it again but will leave off the mozzarella.

Hopefully I will never be in the same situation I was tonight where I had to run buy stuff to cook quickly, but who am I kidding. Most likely I will repeat the process ...tomorrow.

* Baby Bam
3 Tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons of each of the following: salt, dried parsley, onion powder, garlic powder
1 teaspoon of each of the following: ground black pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon celery salt.

Add all ingredients to a medium sized bowl. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon to mix well. Store in an airtight container for 3 months.

If you have a little person in your midst who would like to learn to cook the Emeril books are real gems. He does not dumb it down and use many prepared foods. Instead he has very easy to follow instructions for simple yet real food. Son3 learned how to cook using these. Better than that, a friend with a newly married daughter saw them and thumbed through them at my house one day. She immediately went out and bought both of the Emeril's" There's a Chef in My " cookbooks . I have no idea if she is still using them but according to her mother the books may not have turned her into a mini Martha Stewart, they at least have her where she can put a complete meal on the table.

I forgot to take a picture so I will have to recreate it from leftovers tomorrow, but right now it's late and I need sleep.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Y'all Come Back Now! Heah?

Today was the perfect day for football in the South. The temperate day with a beautiful blue sky and of course the Crimson Tide on tv could only mean one thing...Food Orgy! I actually cooked breakfast this morning. (a very rare occurrence) Since I normally do not eat right out of the chute each day I was not really hungry (at all) when the " football is on right now so that means food is needed" rush hit. Fortunately I had thought ahead and right after the breakfast dishes were in the dishwasher I started cooking a dutch oven filled with sloppy joe's and a small batch of cupcakes. (I did mention the dips and chips to go with said joe's and cakes didn't I?) I am not exactly certain when the feasting began but I am pretty sure it was with ESPN's Game Day prior to Auburn's 11 ish kickoff. I lost count of the number of eating experiences everyone had (all at different times) but at some time tonight after the Georgia/South Carolina game the "What's for Dinner" question was asked. With all the other food already ingested the only thing I wanted was a salad. Since Son3 was out for a little social activity The Hub reluctantly agreed to it. He is sometimes less than overwhelmed with the idea of just a salad for the evening meal. He has adopted the John Pinette stance. "Salad is a promise something good is going to come."

Fortunately there had been a surge of pins on Pinterest about the famed Mississippi Come Back Sauce. When I first saw it there was this small ding in the back of my head that recognized the name but I couldn't remember where I had heard of it before.Finally I remembered it was in an old Sweet Potato Queen's book. I had to hunt to find it , then had to search through several until I finally found the correct book. Lucky for me I made it this morning while I was making some dips for the games.

Hal and Mal's Come Back Sauce from The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love

(For the record I seriously doubt this is the actual recipe from Hal and Mal's. If I had a restaurant I would share a recipe that was close but I would also leave out some particular ingredient that would make it good but not quite the same. If Hal and Mal are smart enough to run a successful brew pub they are smart enough to be a tiny bit deceptive when "sharing".)

2 cup mayonnaise ( For the love of all things Holy, use Dukes)
1 cup ketchup
1 cup chili sauce
1 cup vegetable oil
1 onion,minced
juice of 2 lemons
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt

Mix everything together and pour into a wide mouth jar with a lid. let it set for 24 hours then enjoy as a dressing, with seafood, as a dip with french fries or anywhere you would normally use mayo. ( I can't wait to try this on a turkey sandwich)

What I did differently: I did not want a heavy garlic flavor so I used just 1 large clove of garlic. I minced both the garlic and the onion into a super fine mince. If you did not want to go to all the trouble of mincing I don't see why you couldn't just use a blender or food processor. I couldn't find the dry mustard easily and did not want to dig through all my spice jars so I just squirted about 2 teaspoons of regular yellow mustard in it. The rest I followed to a "t" except I don't actually measure anything.

The Verdict: Though it is basically just a gussied up version of thousand island dressing it was delicious. The salad I made was just mixed lettuces, green zebra tomatoes, red pepper strips, scallions and a few cubes of a sharp cheddar cheese. The dressing absolutely made the salad beyond delicious. ( And I didn't even wait the full twenty four hours for the flavors to marry.)

As I was sitting here typing Son3 returned with the remnants of food he had picked up at McD's on his way home. I begged for a couple of fries so I could preform a scientific test using the sauce for dipping. It is so much better than ketchup!

This is something that I will be keeping in my fridge all the time. I am not sure how long it will last ( shelf life) but I will keep tasting it ( cause I am unselfish like that) so I can let you know about how long it stays "good". I think when this batch is gone I will try making a much smaller amount and make it often. I never want to be without this!

p.s.I see the need for putting it in a wide mouth jar. You're going to want a big spoon to fit in it so you can ladle out a boatload of this deliciousness.

pp.s Once again Blogger will not let me post a picture. As soon as it cooperates with me, I will add it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It; was late, I had chicken and nothing sounded good

What do you do when you rush in at 7:10 and need to have supper on the table in roughly 30 minutes? I had boneless chicken breasts in the fridge and 2 packs of yellow rice in the pantry, so the only question was what to do to it to make it taste good ( Quite frankly I could not bear another broiled chicken with yellow rice and green beans meal)

I decided to do a quick Google search for some delicious chicken recipe and came up blank. In fact nearly every recipe I found with the words quick and delicious took me to something made with cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. Delicious??? Really??? I thumbed through a couple of old cookbooks I inherited or picked up for a quarter at a yard sale. You know those Favorite Recipes of ( Fill in the blank here. Any church group or organization would work) I have no idea which cookbook this was, for it had no cover and nothing identifying it on the inside of the book. In addition to the aforementioned ingredients I also had 2 cans of tomatoes and okra that I found in the back of the pantry. I decided maybe a chicken gumbo of sorts if I could find a quick and easy recipe. So that was my original search through the cookbook Well I did not find a gumbo but instead found a creole recipe and I seemed to have most of the ingredients on hand. So here goes!

Chicken Creole From some group cookbook from somewhere

Enough oil to coat the bottom of a deep skillet ( Gotta love a cookbook that uses the word skillet)
4 medium chicken breast halves, skinned, boned, and cut into 1inch strips o 1 can tomatoes, cut up
1 cup chili sauce
1 large green peppers, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

1.Put the oil in the bottom of the skillet and heat the pan over high heat. Cook chicken in hot skillet, stirring, for 3-5 minutes, or until no longer pink. Reduce heat and add tomatoes and their juice,chili sauce, green pepper, celery, onion, garlic, basil, parsley, crushed red pepper, and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

What I did differently: First off I did not want chicken strips, because I was serving it on the rice I wanted it to feel more substantial. I cut it in chunks about the size of a standard ice cube. I like the visual weight it gave. Secondly I cut the pepper in strips because Son3 hates bell peppers and it is easier for him to separate them if they are larger. Ditto with the onions. I minced the celery finely because The Hub does not like big chucks of cooked celery. With everyone's oddities taken care of I started tossing things in the pot. Chicken followed by the onions followed by the pepper, followed by the celery and garlic. I prefer the veggies to saute a little rather than just stew. Instead of the tomatoes I tossed in 2 cans of tomatoes and okra ( Because it was already out of the pantry and opened when I found the recipe) I did not have any chili sauce ( I am assuming this means that stuff that is on the top shelf near the ketchup in a grocery store) so I punted and added 1 small can of tomato sauce, about a tablespoon of sugar to sweeten it a little and red pepper flakes. I stirred it in to blend and while stirring added the remaining seasonings. I put the lid on the pan and let it cook for about 15 minutes on a medium heat.

When I took the lid of the yellow rice I was in for quite a surprise ( You know the yellow rice in the foil packs) Turns out it was not yellow rice at all. It was yellow all right but it had none of the traditional saffron flavor. It was loaded with garlic,cayenne and additional spices. I think maybe that particular run of rice mix had the flavor and packaging mixed up. Lucky for us I was using it as a base for the Chicken Creole. The heat and spices in the rice really only enhanced the taste. A simple green salad and some tomato wedges and the meal was made. It was a hit and now we have one more way to cook chicken when time is tight.

This is something I will do again, but probably not too often. I think it would get old and boring if we had it much so I will keep it as a "by request" item.

p.s I have a picture but Blogger will not let me add it right now. I will try later