One-Pot Drumsticks and Rice with Vegetables (Stove Top)

Have fresh tomatoes that need using? Chop 2 cups to replace the can of diced tomatoes.

Last week, while working on my post “Cheep Eats” (sic), I got on a roll cooking chicken drumsticks, my very favorite part of chicken. I kept thinking about a big baked casserole of whole chicken pieces and rice I often made when feeding our family of six. Occasionally I’d swap in pork chops for the chicken. And while I still have that recipe in my now worn BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK (I don’t see the exact one on the internet despite looking), I knew it needed a big update. I no longer cook with dry soup mixes very often and CURSES! my oven had died, so a new version had to work on top of the stove. I wanted bunches of vegetables included to make dinner a breeze. Is there anyone who doesn’t like a one-pot, whole meal dinner? What I had in mind was a chicken-rich, herby rice pilaf full of those veggies and with plenty of room for herb or cheese garnishes at the end. I know it’s not quite fall, but I’m in the mood for cozy food and this hit the spot!

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Cheep Eats

I’m a kid at heart; drumsticks are still my favorite.

No matter where you live or what your food budget, you’ve been affected by the sweeping rise in costs at the grocery stores. In the U.S., the basic increase is at about 10% over the last year — somewhat less for produce and somewhat more for meat. To make it through the check-out line without crying, folks have resorted to all sorts of strategies, many of which include reducing meat purchases much of the time. (I’m a constant store cart snooper and am both amazed and saddened by by what shoppers have resorted to in order to feed their families.) While I’ve got the cash to feed our small family of two plus doggies, I, too, have been forced to cut back or at least look at the best buys to keep us fed. Chicken is always a hugely popular dinner yet the ubiquitous boneless breasts many people (not me) have lived on are now sometimes simply out of sight. I did just hear their prices seem to be beginning to drop; thank goodness. What’s available for a song (Why is a song cheap?), however, are the drumstick portions of chicken legs and how wonderful, how easy, and how delectable they are. Chicken legs are not just for kids any longer!! I’ve got a few ways to show you to cook and serve them, including the simplest way, which is to only brown them stove top and finish them in the oven. Sure there are sauces or rubs and great sides like grilled corn or a filling vegetable salad (see above) and only you know exactly how YOU’d want to eat them.

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Tuscan Chicken Stew (Revisited)

It might seem an odd thing to blog hot soup on the 31st of May, but let’s remember I live in Colorado where we had a foot of snow a week ago, enjoyed a temperature of 40 degrees F when I drank my morning coffee this morning, and are still peering out to see if the thermometer has risen above 60 F this afternoon. (It has not.) The sun is lovely; I’ll give you that. The wind, however, is once more a ________. Let’s just say we call her Mariah and let it go at that. But we Rocky Mountain folk are a long way from the cold food weeks of the year when it’s salad, chilled soup, or sandwich time unless we’re grilling or ordering takeout. That means it’s still hot soup weather for me. (Truth in blogging, you know I’ll make soup anytime.) My Tuscan Chicken Stew Revisited, featured this week, is from my now 8-year old soup book, but somehow never made it on to the blog and needs to be here — if only because it’s a steady visitor in my kitchen and is a delicious easy-fast meal. Over the years of making it for us for dinner, ferrying pots to sick friends, or stirring up a double or triple batch for families experiencing homelessness in our city, it’s morphed in more than one sweet direction. Still often the filling, whole-meal chicken minestrone sort of soup, I’ve sometimes added Italian sausage and other times skipped meat entirely, tipping in extra beans and some tiny pasta at the end. Additional vegetables find their way in when available and it’s not unheard of to see a few croutons perching on top if bread needs using. After Thanksgiving, it’s been made bass-ackwards with leftover shredded turkey stirred in at the end. I’ve even made it with ground chicken, one of my favorite unsung ingredient heroes.

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One-Pan Bacon-Chicken Legs with Cabbage, Potatoes, and Apples: Your Fall into Cooking Dinner!

This simple Oktoberfest braise will be a happy addition to dinner rotation. Leftovers are great!

You know how you just love those meals where you toss everything into one pan and slide it into the oven? Here’s another to add to your list of easy favorites that also makes the house smell like someone special is coming to dinner. They are and it’s you! My very fall-ish one-pan chicken braise is simple to grasp, fun to make, and will fill you up happily this very week. (Sorry I’m a little late to the Oktoberfest party… but it couldn’t be helped.) Chicken and apples, much like pork and apples, are a lip-smacking and quintessential autumn pairing. If you like this dish, it can go into your regular dinner rotation and — hey — you’ve got something different to eat! Leftovers are luscious for small households and the recipe can be decreased or increased. Look through the photos, read the instructions, and put the inexpensive and healthy ingredients on your shopping list, though you might have some of them already. Check under TIPS to see about how to change it up to suit your tastes. Here you go…

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Apple-Cranberry Hoisin Chicken Thighs and Rice with Sautéed Spinach, Asparagus, and Tomatoes

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As summer very, very slowly wanes away, there are days when it’s cool enough to turn on the oven. My oven hasn’t been on in months with the exception of absolutely necessary baking (read birthday cakes), which is done before the sun rises lest the house take on one extra degree of warmth.  Last Friday, as Dave flew in from Bogota, Columbia, I wanted to have a dinner ready for which he didn’t have to grill one single item.  Enter SIMPLY MING ONE POT MEALS.  (Aside: I am not in the business of selling any cookbooks except my own, but Truth in Recipes requires I note this simple dish’s provenance.)

Alyce-Aspen kitchens signing books

I’ve owned this book not since in came out in 2010, but maybe since a year or two after that when a good friend mentioned she was cooking something from it.  The book sounded entertaining (it is) and helpful (also true). Who doesn’t want a new spin on one-dish or one-pot meals?  I made a few dishes from it and back it went on the shelf. If I’m not terribly intentional about looking at and using all of my cookbooks, they may sit a while before I drag them out to the kitchen again.  The quality of the book may have nothing to do with it; I cook out of my head a lot. (Why did I leave this sit all this time?)

shopmingsway_2270_1944993

 SIMPLY MING: ONE-POT MEALS

Something drew me to the Ming book last week, and with a few very small changes, I rustled up this one-pot meal very quickly; I think you could, too.

This plate full of goodness is based on a simple happy formula many Americans swear by:  chicken and rice in the oven. Ming’s version has a bit of an Asian twist.  What better, less expensive, easier dinner might you have other than sandwiches?  The bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are sautéed, removed from the pan, where garlic, green onions and next rice are tossed in and cooked briefly. My pot includes a crisp, off-sweet chopped apple. Hoisin sauce is the secret weapon ingredient!  Wine and broth are added; the chicken goes back in. The whole shezaam is covered and carefully stowed in the oven for just 20-30 minutes or so.

You can see and read about the recipe here. I’m not fond of printing recipes that are available in books (as Ming says–cookbook authors need to send their kids to college), but this one has been made available in several places on the internet; have at it.

Changes/additions I made were these:

  1. I added crushed red pepper to the seasoning of the chicken as it browned.
  2. With no fresh cranberries available in September here in Colorado, I substituted a peeled and diced Granny Smith apple along with a handful of dried cranberries. I didn’t want to use all dried cranberries as I thought it might sweeten the dish too much. I also knew the fresh cranberries would give off liquid and felt the apple would mimic that.
  3. I seasoned both the onions and garlic as well as the rice itself with a little salt and pepper.

The pot:  I used a 5.5 quart covered, oven-safe sauté pan for this dish. If you don’t have such a large skillet, brown the chicken in batches in a smaller skillet.  Remove the chicken, add the vegetables and rice, and then add them to a greased very large casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake as the recipe directs.

A couple of other things:  A meal good enough for company, this dish contains a lot of rice. You’ll likely have rice leftover that you can take to work for lunch even if four people have already had their way with it. There are 8 thighs, so the dish will serve 4 or 6 depending on hunger.

While dishes like these are touted as a whole meal–and they are– I’m always in need of some greenery on the table and on the plate. While the chicken and rice baked, I sautéed chopped asparagus, spinach, and tomatoes in grape seed oil with minced ginger, garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper.

IMG_0042In the meantime,  Rosie enjoyed the late afternoon…

IMG_0037Sing a new song; try Ming!

Alyce

Chicken and Carrot Stew

Happy New Year!

While I seldom blog recipes from other places, this easy chicken stew from Bon Appétit is luscious and makes a quick change from my typical  winter beef or lamb stews.  I’ve made it a time or two for friends, fixing it mostly beforehand, adding the cream right before serving.  A scoop of rice and some fresh, sauteéd spinach make for a healthier and well-rounded meal and even lowers the price per serving.  However, not to fear:  this recipe uses inexpensive chicken thighs to start with.

 My kitchen is still a Christmas kitchen--tins full of cookies, crocks full of nuts.  Leftovers in the frig. Christmas dishes in the cupboard.  On and on.  I’m really still in holiday mode and am not back to a regular routine of grocery shopping, cooking, writing, blogging, choir rehearsals, etc.  It is only the tenth day of Christmas (10 Lords-a-leaping!) and I celebrate all twelve days of Christmas plus Epiphany.   Come Sunday night (January 6–Epiphany), you’ll find a table full of people at my house, still decorated, come to have one last, light Christmas romp complete with games. 

 Monday morning will find me contemplating what will, by then, look like a very old Christmas mess, putting it all away and doing a thorough clean before contemplating returning to work on the soup book.  Until then, I’m cooking quick meals, heating big pots of soup or bolognese  I froze earlier in the season, ordering pizza, or hitting favorite restaurants while my daughter’s home.  After all, a kid, even a 25-year-old one, at home for the holidays likes to have their favorites.  And Mom, Mom’s a bit tired of cooking.  I can’t believe I said it, but it’s true.  (Thank God for the freezer.)

While you’re putting away your own holiday mess, cook up this fast stew and see if it doesn’t become one of your favorites.  It’s made mostly from food you might already keep in the larder or freezer (I always have boneless chicken thighs for quick soups.) and if you don’t have the leeks, substitute onions.   If you’re looking for lighter meals, you might try substituting non-fat evaporated milk, half and half, or a lower-fat milk for the cream.   Try this:

chicken and carrot stew from Bon Appétit  
4 servings (perhaps 6 if you add the rice and spinach)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 1/4-inch-thick rounds peeled carrots (about 3 medium-large)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 medium)
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Fresh thyme sprigs (for garnish)

Preparation

  • Cook carrots in large saucepan of boiling salted water 3 minutes. Add leeks to pan with carrots and cook until carrots are tender, about 3 minutes longer. Drain; set aside.

  • Sprinkle chicken with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whisk flour, thyme, and paprika in medium bowl. Toss chicken in flour mixture. Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium- high heat. Add chicken to skillet and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Scatter carrots and leeks over chicken. Add broth, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add cream and mustard. Stir until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Season sauce to taste with sea salt and pepper. Transfer to large shallow bowl. Scatter parsley over and garnish with thyme sprigs.

Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/04/chicken_and_carrot_stew#ixzz2GpkItqiz

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 Interested in entering a bread recipe contest?

 Jan. 31 Deadline for National Festival of Breads Entries!

Remember that your original bread recipes must be submitted via the online entry form by Jan. 31. Please, be sure to include King Arthur Flour and Fleischmann’s Yeast in your ingredients list! Recipes that do not include these two ingredients will be disqualified! Click on the link to read the rules.  
  Enter by January 31, 2013  http://www.americasbreadbasket.com/nfob

Sing a new song,
Alyce