It’s one of the biggest challenges and conundrums of my cooking, blogging, writing, and teaching life. Folks are so very interested in food, love to chat about it, are crazy about eating, and seem to know lots about ingredients and technique (Food Network and “Top Chef”, I guess). But somehow they often have an awesome amount of trouble getting into the kitchen and actually cooking. There are myriad reasons and I needn’t name them.
I think of fajitas as a summer meal. It’s a hot night on the deck. There are margaritas along with chips and guac to start. Icy cold Dos Equis to go with the meal and just made cinnamon ice cream to finish.
Steak and chicken could both make an appearance and I’d probably even twist Dave’s arm to grill all of the vegetables and heat the tortillas. What’s a husband for?
Trying to figure out what to name the dishes I dream up is not always easy. Many times the right recipe title does just pops up. Because, in my book, t should say what it is. Not be misleading or uninformative. (If you say, “Mother Morgan’s Favorite Dinner,” what does that mean? Steak and Garlic Green Beans on Mushroom Rice, however, says exactly what it is.) Other times, I’m lost. Nothing sounds right. I mull. I ponder. Here’s an example: Continue reading
While the old deck disappears and the new one is added, our summer dinner spot is gone. This seems to be a theme in our lives lately. (Change is in the air.) Outdoor tables and chairs are stored in the garage; patio candles sit awkwardly in a living room corner. Cushions and pillows are propped up next to the piano or rest at odd angles under sofa tables in the family room. We have cabin fever this year in the summer because from May – September, we do not eat indoors unless there’s a horrific storm or we’re in a restaurant. Our life, from 5:00 on — when sun is on the western side of our house — is outdoors. But not, sadly, for two weeks. Continue reading
Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, might have gotten out of hand once in a while in U.S. celebrations. A margarita or two many (sic) along with endless bowls of tortilla chips and salsa sounds great in the short run, but not in the long. Why not skip the tequila hangover (it is, after all, a work night) and invite a few friends over for my chicken and green chili with cheese grits– a supper full of freshly layered happiness? Continue reading
In January it’s so nice
While slippin’ on the slidin’ ice
To sip hot chicken soup with rice
Sippin’ once, sippin’ twice
Sippin’ chicken soup with rice..
Lyrics (original text) by Maurice Sendak. Music by Carole King, Really Rosie. (Click here to listen.) First published in the book Chicken Soup with Rice, part of the Nutshell Library. Continue reading
Start with a little music when you only have a half an hour to make dinner. Perhaps Adele’s NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. Maybe a glass of wine, too. If there’s anyone else home, have them set the table and light the candles. While this is fast, it’s luscious and homey and that deserves a bit of attention from everyone. If you love Chicken Pot Pie (and who doesn’t?), but never have the time to make it from scratch –you order it out, right? — this one’s for you. All of the goodness and none of the hassle. Try it tonight:
ENGLISH MUFFIN CHICKEN POT “PIES”
Done in about a half hour, this filling and comforting dish will sooth even the most tired cold soul. My version uses home-cooked or rotisserie chicken. Skip the pastry and instead buy English muffins for the bottom and top of the “pie.” Make it as written, or ramp it up with the changes in vegetables noted in parentheses. A small, peeled and diced potato could also be used in place of two of the carrots. Alternately, you might use some leftover cooked vegetables. Continue reading
Just coming home from a two-week vacation is work enough (back in the saddle again), but coming home to find a #deadbodysmell fridge-freezer before you’ve even unloaded the doggies is just plain nasty. I had already needed to buy a washer and dryer on the way home as my dryer had died right before our flight to Venice and the washer was on its last legs. I was looking forward to a fast delivery to take care of the two weeks of suitcase clothing. Don’t want vacation tails? (sic) Scroll down past the photos for recipe.
I accused Dave of creating the wafting, unhappy-nose and brain smell-GOD, GOD, IT WAS TRAGIC; he denied it vehemently. I looked at the dogs, who looked back at me; they had nada. (Above: at super Double D Ranch for camp.) As I opened the car door, I realized it was the garage that smelled and just knew an animal -ARGH- had entered and died. We looked around and found no raccoon, bear, cat, etc. (We really do have bears in garages here.) Dave went to the 2001 double-door fridge/freezer we removed from the kitchen during the remodel–obviously none too soon–and not being able to stop himself from opening it, discovered a sickening mess that had been going on for a while. Quite a while.
In the house was a note from the woman who cleans our house and stays over occasionally when we travel. “House is great; can’t figure out the smell in garage.”
Just when I was feeling oh-so-sigh-Venicy. We did surely, surely have a glorious time with six friends taking the long route on a ship that, beginning in Venice with a side-trip to Florence, had to nearly blow through Brindisi, Italy; Katakolon, Greece (Olympia); Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey; and Dubrovnik, Croatia to make it back to Venice in a week. Just for info: we went on MSC Cruises (ship=Magnifica), an Italian line, and they showed us a gorgeous time. Beautiful ship (a little big at 3,000 passengers for this Holland America girl), good food, polite staff, lack of constant corny announcements, and a dependable please-read-your-daily-program-we-aren’t-your-babysitters approach to cruising. Continue reading
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.)
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?)
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:
- I added crushed red pepper to the seasoning of the chicken as it browned.
- 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.
- 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.