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Friday, September 27, 2019

Curried Chicken Breast with Zucchini

It is with a strange sense of both wistfulness and relief that I anticipate the waning of the garden every fall. I love harvest season, but it brings with a constant pressure to eat and preserve every little bit of produce while I still have it. So the relief is a lessening of that pressure, but it comes at a cost, of boring winter food. 

We're facing a probable freeze next week, with a number of baby zucchinis still on my plants. Two of them went into this fairly easy, low carb dinner. I usually add a starch (pasta, bread, or rice), and sometimes another veggie for my picky eaters who don't like zucchini unless it's in a sweet bread. 





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Curried Chicken Breast with Zucchini


Modified slightly from https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/3209-curried-chicken-breast-with-zucchini

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lbs)
~4 T olive oil, divided
salt
pepper
2 small zucchini, about 1 lb
2 teas curry powder
1 T unsalted butter
2 T fine chopped shallots
1/2 c chicken broth
2 T heavy cream

Turn the chicken breasts on their sides and cut in thin pieces of meat that will cook faster. Then add the chicken to a large bowl and coat with ~1 T oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper.

Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the zucchini and curry powder to the bowl with the chicken and stir with your hands to coat everything evenly.

Heat oven to 200F and prepare a dish to hold the zucchini and chicken that finishes early.

Heat ~1 T oil over medium high heat in each of two large, heavy skillets: I use a cast iron and an all clad, because that's what I have. Add the chicken in one layer to both skillets, then place the zucchini in between the chicken.

The original recipe said to brown one side for 3 minutes and then turn the heat down to moderately low and cook the other side for 5 minutes. The timing on this seems way off. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to cook the chicken to 165F after I turn the heat down for the second side. Turn the zucchini occasionally until browned and softened to taste. Move the chicken and zucchini to the warm oven as it finishes.

Then, use one skillet to make the pan sauce. Pour off the fat, and add the butter. Add the shallots. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring to get the flavorful dark bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the broth; reduce to about 1/3 c and then stir in the cream. Bring to a boil, then add the chicken and zucchini pieces back to the skillet and turn them to coat. I wanted more sauce last time, so I might increase the amounts for the pan sauce next time.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Blender Ice Cream

I have a beautiful mint plant on my back steps, that I keep watering every summer because I plan on using it to flavor mint ice cream. The last couple of summers, however, that idea has seemed out of reach. Infusing the cream with mint and pulling out the ice cream machine has been too much. But I am back in the ice cream game now, with this new recipe for making ice cream in a blender!

This was the perfect first-day-of-school treat! So easy. Whip the cream in the blender for 30 seconds, then dump everything else in and process for a few seconds more. Freeze for 6 hours or more, and voila! Soft, scoop-able, tasty ice cream.

Both recipes I tried were plenty sweet for me. I'm going to remove the granulated sugar next time--but here is the original, since I know not everyone objects to sweet.


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Blender Ice Cream Base, with Three Variations


Source: Cook's Country
Yield: about a quart

2 c heavy cream, chilled
1 c sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 c whole milk
1/4 light corn syrup
2 T sugar
1/4 teas table salt

Vanilla variation

1 T vanilla extract

Mint Cookie variation

3/4 teas peppermint extract
4 Oreo cookies, or something similar, crushed coarse (1/2 c)

Peanut Butter Cup variation

1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/2 c coarsely chopped peanut butter cups
(This peanut butter ice cream is really good topped with spanish peanuts.)

The original recipe says to process cream in a blender for 20-30 seconds until soft peaks form, then scrape down the sides and process another 10 seconds until stiff peaks form. I have a ninja blender and it was hard to tell the exact peak stage, so I went with the time recommendations instead.

After the cream is whipped, add all other ingredients except the big stir-ins like cookies or candy chunks. Process for another 20 seconds or so until fully combined, then pour into a loaf pan. Gently stir in cookie or candy, if applicable. Then cover the ice cream with plastic wrap, pressing it down so it's resting right on the cream mixture. Freeze for at least 6 hours, then enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Baked Peach Oatmeal with Almonds

One more summertime oatmeal recipe.



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Baked Peach Oatmeal with Almonds


Adapted from:  https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/baked-peach-almond-oatmeal/
Yields:  6-9 servings

2 c rolled oats
1/4 c light brown sugar
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 c chopped almonds
2 c milk,  any kind but almond milk might be particularly good
1 large egg
3 T coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly, or 3 T melted and cooled butter
1 teas vanilla extract
1/4 teas almond extract
1 1/2 c chopped peaches
Peach slices for the top, optional

Oil or butter an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish. Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and almonds in a medium bowl.

Mix the milk, egg, coconut oil (or butter), and extracts in another bowl. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until combined.

Spread the chopped peaches on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with the oatmeal mixture and even it with an offset or rubber spatula. Top the pan with peach slices, if desired.

Bake for 40 minutes; the oatmeal should be set and the top be golden. Let it cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Notes:

This is not a particularly sweet version of baked oatmeal which suits me fine, but I wager many people might like it a bit sweeter. You could add another tablespoon or two of sugar without a problem. Or you might offer a bit of maple syrup when you serve it. If you have some Peach Drizzle, this would be a great use for it.

You can double this recipe and place ingredients in a 9X13 pan.

Next time, I may use 2 cups chopped peaches, especially if I have an abundance of fruit.

This can be easily reheated in the microwave but you may want to stir in a bit of milk for creaminess.


Peruvian Chicken Soup

Although I'm unsure if this soup is authentic, it is tasty, pretty, and, for me, unique. Better yet it is very quick. The soup can be finished in about 30 minutes.

You may not love quinoa and although it hangs out at the bottom of the pan making it hard to serve evenly, I could find nothing objectionable in the flavor--it added texture to the soup. You could leave it out or use some potatoes, rice, or orzo (you'd have to fiddle with cooking time, though).



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Peruvian Chicken Soup


Serves about 2 but can be multiplied

1 small onion, cut into quarters
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 small jalapeno pepper, optional (or it can be increased), seeds removed and coarsely chopped
8 large stems of parsley or cilantro, including tender stems, coarsely chopped
1 T oil
2 c chicken broth
1/4 c quinoa
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast half (about 11 oz)
1/2 c frozen peas, optional
salt
pepper
1 lime for serving

Place the onion, celery, garlic, jalapeno, and parsley or cilantro into a blender or a food processor along with the oil. Pulse until you've got a pesto-like paste. If it resists your machine's efforts add a tablespoon or 2 of the chicken broth and try again. It's nice to have it quite smooth but if you can't get there, don't fret. It will still taste good.

Scrape the vegetable paste into a saucepan and place on a burner over medium heat; let it heat for a minute or two. Add the broth. If your quinoa needs to be rinsed (check the package) do so and then put it into the pot. Once the mixture starts to boil, put a lid on it, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so.

In the meantime, cut the chicken breast across the grain into 1-inch slices and place into the sauce pan. With the lid off, cook for 10 minutes until the meat is opaque. The quinoa should be starting to pop. Remove the chicken from the pan and cut it into bite size pieces. Return the chicken to the soup and stir in the peas. Cook until the peas have warmed up and are tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Peach and Corn Salsa

It's time for peaches! This fruit keeps me happy for weeks and weeks during the summer. And corn on the cob helps, too. Even though this is a canning recipe you can easily half it and store in the fridge if you have left overs. You'd get about 3 cups of salsa.


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Peach and Corn Salsa


From: The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving 
Yield: about 6 half-pint jars (or 6 cups)

1/4 c malt vinegar (5% acidity)
1/4 c lime juice (about 4 small limes)
3 T chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional) I used about one or a little more
2 T maple syrup
2 teas salt
1 teas fresh thyme or dried
3 1/2 c finely chopped peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 1/3 c fresh or frozen corn kernels (2 fairly large ears; more if small)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c finely chopped red bell pepper

Heat clean canning jars in the canner as you prepare the ingredients.

Place all ingredients into a 5 or 6-quart stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Place on high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook about 5 minutes until heated through. Stir often.

While the salsa is cooking, clean lids and place them in a bowl of boiling water and allow to sit until you need them.

Use a ladle or measuring cup to place the salsa into each hot jar leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Use a chopstick or thin rubber spatula to remove bubbles. Wipe the jar rims with a clean paper towel to ensure no food adheres to the edge.  Place the lids on top. Top with clean bands on each jar and tighten with your finger tips. Place the jars into the simmering water in the canning pot. Measure to ensure you have at least one inch of water above the tops of the jars.

Cover the pot and return to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes but adjust for altitude by adding required boiling time according to this chart:

1,001-3,000 ft--5 additional minutes
3,001-6,000 ft--10 additional minutes
6,001-8,000 ft--15 additional minutes
8,001-10,000 ft--20 additional minutes

When the jars have boiled for the required time turn the heat off and allow them to sit in the water for 5-10 minutes to reduce the risk of siphoning (hot liquid escaping the jar in rapid temperature change). Using jar tongs, pull each jar from the water being careful not to tip the jars (also a siphoning risk) and place on a towel in a spot where it can remain for 24 hours as it completes its seal and cools down. If you must move them, place them on a towel on a baking sheet and as soon as all the jars are on the sheet carry them together to an area where they won't be disturbed for a day.

Note if you aren't canning this:

Cook the salsa longer 15 minutes or so. Test it and if it is too crunchy, cook it for another 5 minutes. 


Monday, July 29, 2019

Slow-cooker Salmon with Peppers, Onions, and Charmoula

Using a slow-cooker to cook salmon may seem strange especially since it only cooks for an hour. But during a hot summer it is nice to heat up only that small space.



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Slow-cooker Salmon with Peppers, Onions, and Charmoula


Source:  Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone
Serves: 6

Charmoula is a green, herb based sauce served with fish, meat, or vegetables in several countries in the north of Africa.


For the salmon:

1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 thick salmon fillet (about 2 pounds) cut into 6 serving pieces
1/2 c water

For charmoula sauce:

1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 large clove,  roughly chopped
1 teas ground cumin
1/2 teas paprika
1/3 c olive oil
2-3 T fresh lemon juice

Drop the onion and peppers into the bottom of the insert of a slow-cooker. Spread the pieces of salmon over the top and pour the water over all. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the insert in the slow-cooker, cover with the lid, and cook on high for an hour. Test the fish by cutting into the thickest part. If it is just barely translucent it will be done.

In the meantime, place the cilantro, clove, cumin, paprika and salt to taste into a food processor or blender and process until chopped finely. Add the oil and lemon juice and process until emulsified. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.

Serve the salmon on top of the vegetables and pass the charmoula for drizzling over the fish.

Note:

I am sure you could increase the amount of vegetables if you prefer. I wouldn't increase the water, though.



Friday, June 28, 2019

Strawberry-Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal

I love baked oatmeal but admit that it's a cool weather love. This recipe extends the oatmeal season for me. Rhubarb lends a pleasant tartness to a sweet background and since you likely won't find it in the supermarket again until next spring, frozen will work fine. (That said, keep an eye out for fresh rhubarb; I saw some 2 days ago in my local co-op.)


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Strawberry-Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal


Serves 6-8

Next time I bake this, I'm going to add a half teaspoon grated orange zest and top it with a handful of slivered almonds. I haven't tested it, but I believe you could substitute an equal amount of strawberries for the rhubarb if it's out of season.

3 c old fashioned rolled oats
1/3-1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 teas baking powder (at 4000-5000 ft. elevation, 2 teas. at lower elevations)
1/4 teas salt
1 teas vanilla
1/4 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 c milk, any kind
1/4 c yogurt
3/4 c chopped strawberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 c chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen (red varieties are prettier, but not necessary) about half-inch dice
3-4 T cinnamon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Mix the oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture and stir well to combine. Stir in the strawberries and rhubarb. Pour into a pie plate, a 9-inch round cake pan, or an 8-inch square pan. Sprinkle the top generously with cinnamon sugar.

Place in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes at my elevation, at lower elevations start checking at 40 minutes. When it is done, it will be fairly firm to the touch and crispy on the edges.