Chicken and Pork Paella

The school year is starting soon, which means I will be back to work and won’t be able to make as many meals that don’t leave leftovers. For the next few weeks, I’ll be testing out some recipes that create leftovers. This is the first recipe in that series. This is an easy recipe that is also easy on the budget. We ate about half the first night and will finish it tonight.

This recipe is from a cookbook I got for next to nothing during my local Borders bookstore closing sale. It’s called Tastes of the Mediterranean and has lots of fun recipes. This is the first I’ve tried from that book.

Ingredients:

1- 1/4 cup olive oil

2- 1 lb chicken thighs cut into cubes (I used two boneless chicken breasts)

3- 7 oz chorizo sausage cut into pieces (I used Nature’s Promise chicken and apple sausage)

4- 7 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced

5- 3 garlic cloves, crushed

6- 1 lb tomatoes, chopped

7- 7 oz green beans, cut in half

8- 2 tbs parsley, chopped

9- 1/4 saffron threads dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water

10- 2 cups short grain rice (My supermarket didn’t have short grain, so I subbed in medium grain)

11- 3 cups chicken broth (I used 2.5)

12- lemon wedges

Directions:

1- Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan or paella pan over medium heat (all ingredients will eventually go in this pan, so use a big one or use an oval Dutch oven, as I did). Add the peppers and cook until soft, about 10 mins. Remove after cooked and set aside.

2- Add the chicken and cook until brown, about 10 mins. Add the sausage and cook for 5 mins or until golden on all sides.

3- Add the mushrooms and garlic and let cook over medium heat for 5 mins.

4- Stir in the tomato and pepper and cook another 5 mins, or until the tomato is soft.

5- Add the beans, parsley, saffron mixture, and rice. Stir together, then add the stock. Do not stir anymore. Set the timer for 30 mins and leave the mixture be. You want a crust to form on the bottom of the paella. After 30 mins, remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 10 mins. Serve with lemon wedges.

Enjoy:)

Tartar Sauce

The other night I made fish sandwiches and to go with the sandwiches, I obviously wanted Tartar sauce. Upon looking at the various Tartar sauces in the store and their ingredients, I was pretty much grossed out and just decided to make my own. How hard could it be? Not very, as it turns out. I looked up some recipes and chose the most popular ingredients and just started putting some things together. Here are the ingredients I used with some notes about quantities.

Mayo– This forms the base of the sauce, so use how ever much you think you’ll need for what ever dish you’re making. For two fish sandwiches, I used about a 1/2 cup of light mayo.

Dijon Mustard– A big squirt or two depending on quantity of mayo.

Kosher Pickles or gherkins– Chop some pickles up into small pieces and add them to the mixture. Don’t overwhelm the mixture with pickles, but you also want some in every bite. You can also substitute pickles for relish.

Lemon– A good squeeze to taste. Don’t make it too watery though!

Cayenne– To taste.

Some other things to add in are:

1- green onion

2- capers

3- parsley

This is all about taste- so keep tasting and adjust quantities as needed. You can always add!

Dexter the puppy is the inspiration behind this peanut butter Recipe

Yes, our puppy Dexter was my inspiration for making homemade peanut butter. He was antsy today, so Jim attached a piece of string to the top of the terrace and to the string he attached a plastic bottle and on the bottle he smeared some peanut butter. The whole point was for him to jump up and try to lick the peanut butter off. He jumped a few times, but mostly just sat and stared up at the bottle anxiously awaiting for us to take the  bottle down and put it within his reach. Before giving in to his cute little face though, we held the bottle still so he wouldn’t have to work that hard after jumping for his reward. This seemed to make him happy…for a few minutes.

Then decided it was way too much work and he definitely needed the bottle down at his level. We gave in….but not totally…We’re trying to teach him “stand”, so we made him stand next.

FINALLY after the poor guy jumped and stood on two paws, we let him lick the rest of the peanut butter off at his own level. He was happy.

After we came inside from this fun, I was bored (as usual- I always like to be busy with something). Anyway, as I was cleaning the rest of the peanut butter off the plastic bottle, I thought to myself how super fun it would be to make peanut butter. I’ve ground peanuts at Whole Foods before, but I’ve never had a food processor to make it myself at home, but now I do. It was such an easy process. Seriously. I’ve had my food processor for a few months now. Why haven’t I done this before? It’s very satisfying even if I won’t be saving money by doing it.

Ingredients:

All’s you need are shelled peanuts (any type), vegetable or canola oil, salt (if desired), and a food processor.

Directions:

1- Add peanuts to the food processor and process until the peanuts become coarse bits and start to stick together.

2- Add oil and salt to the peanut mixture. I’d add a little bit at a time until your desired taste and consistency is achieved. You can always add more.

 

 

 

 

3- Put PB into a Ball jar or other container and store in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

Only One Option for Using Leftover Mango Salsa

Can you guess what it is? It’s pretty obvious. Ok I’ll tell you: Fish Tacos, of course! Since I had leftover mango salsa, a majority of the prep work was already done! All’s I had to do was to cook up the fish. If you don’t have leftover mango salsa and/or don’t know the recipe, I linked to it below.

Ingredients:

1- in order to make 2 bigger tacos per person, I bought 2 smallish tilapia fillets (.45 lbs).

2- salt and pepper

3- soft taco shells

4- mango salsa (https://dessertcomesfirst.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/turkey-burger-sliders-with-mango-salsa-and-sweet-potato-fries/)

5- avocado, if desired.

Directions:

1- Lightly season the fillets with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2- Spray a non stick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium.

3- Add the fish and cook for about 6 minutes. The fish should flake when done.

4- Cut or flake the fish into pieces and put on the taco shells.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5- Add the mango salsa and avocado, if desired.

6- Enjoy with a small salad, if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And to drink we had:

Magic Hat IPA. Quite good, for an IPA. Strong aroma and bitter on the palate.

Turkey Burger Sliders with Mango Salsa and Sweet Potato Fries

My current obsessions include:

being at the beach nearly every day,

Adele’s new music,

our puppy’s little butt wiggle when he’s excited. It’s like he can’t contain his tail,

and

Mango salsa. I love all of its flavor combinations and definitely the color. 

When deciding what to make last night, I knew two things: I wanted sweet potato fries and I wanted mango salsa. I usually always do a mango salsa to go with fish tacos, but sweet potato fries don’t really go with fish tacos. I went into the store really with no idea of what I wanted to do besides those two things. I started to collect the ingredients for those when I came across King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread in the perfect slider size! What an idea- turkey burger sliders with mango salsa and sweet potato fries- and there, standing by the buns, a dinner idea was born.

Unless I have recipe, I nearly never use any measuring tools, and even with a recipe, I rarely measure, so it’s quite hard for me to say how much of each ingredient to use. I think how much of each ingredient really depends on people’s preferences, especially when it comes to spices. It also depends on how many you are cooking for. Last night I cooked for 2. We each had 4 mango salsa sliders with a side of fries. Here’s the recipe minus the ingredient quantities.

If you’re making the sweet potato fries, start them first because they take the longest.

Sweet Potato Fries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Ingredients:

Yam

Paprika

Crushed Red Pepper

Salt

Cumin

Vegetable Oil to coat

Gallon size ziploc bag

Directions:

1- Cut the yam into fry shapes

2- Once cut, put them in the ziploc bag, add the spices, add the vegetable oil to coat and shake vigorously until well coated. Put them on a pan and pop in the oven. Don’t trip over puppy who always wants to hang out in the kitchen while you cook so he can clean up what falls down:)

3- Bake for about 40 mins, possibly longer depending on how dark you want them. Mix them about every 10 mins. If you see that they are drying out, add some more vegetable oil.

4- While the fries bake, start the mango salsa and the sliders.

Mango Salsa- The amount of salsa you make will depend on the number of sliders you are making. Estimate about 1 tsp of salsa per slider.

Ingredients:

Mango

Cilantro

Red Pepper

Green Onion

Onion

Lime

Directions:

1- Chop all ingredients and combine in a bowl. Sprinkle lime juice on top.

2- That’s all- you’re done. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Turkey Burger Sliders

Ingredients:

1- Ground turkey

2- King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread

Directions:

1- Form the ground turkey into slider size patties. Make sure they are small and flat, so they don’t turn into little meatballs instead.

2- Put about 2 tbs of vegetable oil in a non stick skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the sliders and let the first side brown, flip the slider, and let the other side brown. Reduce the heat and cook through.

3-  While sliders cook, cut the rolls in half and then cut some of the extra dough off the rolls to make them a little smaller.

4- Put mango salsa on the bottom of the bun and the slider on top so the mango salsa stays on.

5- Serve and enjoy

And to drink we had:

Magic Hat Wacko Ale. It’s a crisp beer that pairs perfectly with a summer time type dish. It’s not that hoppy, which is good for me. People think Coors is the summer beer, but I think Magic Hat Wacko is much better.

Tomato Sauce with Onion

I chose this sauce last night mainly because of how easy it is to prepare and quite frankly, I was feeling lazy. This sauce has an amazingly pure, sweet taste and it can’t get any easier to prepare, although the suggested simmering time is quite long. It’s a perfect sauce for potato gnocchi, but it is also superb on spaghetti or penne. I decided to be a bit contumacious and went against the suggestions of the queen of Italian cooking (in my mind), Marcella Hazan, and actually served this sauce with bowtie pasta because who can deny how fun bowtie pasta is?!  They’re in the shapes of little bowties!

There are a few basic ingredients:

1- one large can of Imported plum tomatoes with juices(spring and get the ones that are actually imported from Italy)

2- 2 tablespoons butter

3- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced (you can either dice or cut into strips)

4- salt

Directions:

1- This is the messy part. You have to pluck the tomatoes from the can and cut them up into rough thirds. Make sure to save the juices!

2- Slice or dice the onion. Make the amount of onion you slice proportionate to the tomatoes.

3- Put the tomatoes, onion, and butter in a saucepan. Add some salt and remember, you can always add more later.

4- Allow to simmer over a low flame for about 45 minutes. Stir the sauce every so often. If you see large bits of tomato, mash it with a spoon.

5- Once done, toss with your pasta.

I served my pasta and sauce with garlic bread and salad.

And to drink we had:

Magic Hat Not Quite Pale Ale- No thoughts really on this beer. I like it and thought it went well enough with the dish. I’m not a huge fan of  Pale Ales because they’re pretty hoppy, but I like this one. Maybe because it’s not quite a pale ale….

How to Boil Corn on the Cob

Tis the season for fresh corn and tis the season for me to mess up boiling corn on cob…every time. Last night was the first time we had it this season and I was determined not to mess it up. I looked up lots of recipes and chose the components I liked best from a bunch of different versions. The end product came out the best ever. Here’s what I did:

1- Fill a pot with water and add about 1/4 cup sugar

2- Add the corn and bring to a boil

3- Once the water comes to a rolling boil, let the corn boil for a few minutes. The time will depend on how many pieces of corn are in the pot. I boiled 2 pieces and, after the water was rolling, I left it for three minutes.

Marinade for Pork Chops

This past Saturday that ago old question arose once again- what are we going to make for dinner? We knew we wanted to grill and our original thinking was to make a pork tenderloin, but when we got the store, it was $15! There was no way I was going to spend that much money. We decided to go with thick cut pork chops. Who needs the store’s marinade anyway? With the help of foodnetwork. com, we knew we could come up with something better anyway. When we got home I searched for a marinade and came across one by Alton Brown, who I think is awesome. He’s one of the hosts of Iron Chef. There are so many hosts on that show, I can’t keep them straight. Anyway, he’s the guy they show at the beginning and the end. I guess I knew he was also a chef- he certainly knows his ingredients. Anyway, the main ingredients in this recipe are strong brewed coffee and molasses. The only reason I had molasses laying around was because I made a shoo fly pie awhile back. I’m not a fan of molasses (or shoo fly pie), but with the mix of other ingredients in the recipe, all the flavors balance out nicely.

Notes:

I halved the recipe below for two thick cut pork chops.

I eyeballed most of the ingredients on the list-I hate to unnecessarily dirty extra things.

I did not add the ginger.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup cool strong coffee
  • 6 ounces molasses
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
1- Mix all ingredients together in a ziploc bag.
2- Add pork chops and shake bag about until pork is coated.
3- Put in refrigerator and marinate for as long as you’re able.

Homemade Pesto

The container garden on our terrace is really starting to thrive. I’ve picked some lettuce leaves already and my carrots are starting to mature, my beets are coming up, and so are my chives, but not my basil and oregano. I wanted to make pesto awhile back, but thought I’d wait for the basil in my garden to grow, but after two plantings, my basil has yet to pop up, so I finally broke down and bought basil at the supermarket to make my pesto. The basil had a very pleasant smell but probably not as pleasant had I of picked it from my own garden! I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. I thought herbs were the easiest thing to grow. I must be doing something right since everything else is growing. It’s a mystery. I think I’ll give it another try though.

Anyway, the recipe for pesto is very easy. Originally pesto was created by the Genoese as a way to use their extremely fragrant basil. Traditionally basil was made using a mortar and pestle. Actually the name pesto comes from the word pestare, which means to grind. I, like many people, just used a food processor and got very desirable results.

Traditionally you have pesto with spaghetti or potato gnocchi. The Genoese serve the pesto with a type of pasta identical in shape to fettuccine. I served the pesto with angel hair pasta and a side of salad made with arugula.

The recipe:

Ingredients:

1- 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil

2- 1/2 cup olive oil

3- 3 tablespoons pine nuts

4- 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine

5- salt

6- 1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

7- 3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature

Directions:

1- Wash and thoroughly dry the basil.

2- Put the basil, olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, and pine nuts in the food processor. Process to a smooth consistency.

3- If freezing the basil, put in a ziploc bag and freeze at this point. If using fresh, continue to the next step.

4- Put the pesto in a bowl and add the cheese and butter stirring to distribute the ingredients evenly.

5- After cooking the pasta, reserve a few tablespoons of the starchy cooking water in the pot of pasta. Spoon the pesto directly over the pasta and distribute with tongs.

And to drink:

We had Samuel Adams Summer Ale. The pepper and citrus flavors paired very well with the pasta. It also paired well with the arugula, which has a peppery taste.

Avocado Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

There are many things I used to hate that I now love. Avocados, Goat Cheese, Feta, Blue Cheese, Carrots, Olives, but not eggs. No matter how much I try, I still don’t like eggs. Of all the things on this list, I cannot believe I never used to like avocados!  I can’t remember the exact time I started to like avocados or even when I tried them for the first time- it just kind of happened. Perhaps it happened when I realized they go so well with balsamic vinegar. Now, though, I always look for ways to include avocado in as many meals as possible. They are a constant in my salads, on my burgers, with fish, and, as of last night, on my baked potatoes. This recipe, courtesy of my friend Mindy, who made this one weekend with her boyfriend, is another great way to use avocados. The recipe is taken from avocado.org, but she makes some awesome suggestions, found at the end of the post, to make the recipe even better! Thanks Mindy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 small or 2 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • ½ garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 large, ripe Fresh California Avocado, peeled and chopped
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh or dried rosemary
  • ½ Tbsp. lime juice
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp.olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Remove brown gills from the undersides of mushrooms using a spoon; discard gills. Remove stems, if necessary, and reserve for another use, if desired.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add leek and garlic, and sauté, until tender. Remove from heat, and cool.
  3. Stir together avocado and next 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir in leek mixture.
  4. Press goat cheese evenly into mushroom caps; top each with avocado mixture. Sprinkle with walnuts, and drizzle with olive oil. Place on rack in a broiler pan.
  5. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and bake 5 more minutes. Serve immediately. Garnish, if desired.

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Ok, so notes.

  •  We found the butter to be overkill, we probably could have just used a touch of olive oil to serve the same purpose and save ourselves from the extra cholesterol.
  • We couldn’t find leeks so we used chives instead- I thought they were delicious and since I’m not especially partial to leeks over chives, I think I’ll stick with chives.
  • We used 4 large mushrooms and 2 small avocados.  We didn’t have any sides but we were stuffed.
  • we used lemon juice instead of lime…which I just like better but I think either would be good.
  • we used the crumbly kind of goat cheese but I think it would be better with a creamier kind.