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But 90% of the time, I’ll look at an elaborate recipe with 20 ingredients and think, “Yeah right! Not tonight, my friend.”
Which is a pity, because ingredient lists can be deceiving as far as effort involved.
On the other hand, if I come across a recipe with only 3 or 4 ingredients, I’ll probably dismiss that one too. “Not exciting. Probably has ‘boxed something’ as an ingredient.”
Sometimes I’m too judgmental.
Cover and cook. Eat.
And don’t get a steam burn!
No seriously, DON’T get a steam burn. I went to pull off the aluminum foil, and my hand got in the way of the escaping steam. It was one of those burns that actually took a second to reach my brain. At first it was like, “oh that was kind of hot,” and a second later I was jumping around the kitchen waving my hand in the air like I just didn’t care. Then I remembered to run it under cold water.
I’m quick like that.
Hours later, I was STILL icing my fingers because they felt like my skin was melting off. Unwrap with caution, folks.
Steamy Rice and Beans
Adapted from eat, live, run
2 chicken breasts, diced (or leave out the chicken!)
1 cup dry rice (I used Jasmine rice)
8 oz can of tomato sauce
14 oz can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne, depending on how much kick you’re looking for.
guacamole for topping (I’m kind of obsessed with the Wholly Guacamole from Costco. Best ingredients list I’ve seen on store-bought guacamole.)
Preheat the oven to 350F
In a 9×13″ dish, pour in the rice, tomato sauce and kidney beans. Add the spices to the broth and whisk together. Pour the broth over the rice and beans, and give the pan a little stir. Add the chicken, and then cover the pan very tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 90 minutes with the foil on.
CAREFULLY remove the aluminum foil, top the casserole with guacamole, and serve.
Yours truly with peeling fingers,
It was so simple to come up with the first time. I was making chili, and I decided that curry powder would be fun to try instead of chili powder. And then of course I had to add coconut milk.
I do have to admit that I was pretty nervous about how this would turn out, and how it would be received, but it remains the most requested meal to date.
I make this exactly the same way as I make regular chili, but the difference in flavor couldn’t be bigger!
Curry Chicken Chili
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 14 oz can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can Black Beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can Kidney Beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can Diced Tomatoes
1 14 oz can of Coconut Milk
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
Saute the diced chicken until almost cooked through. Add the diced tomatoes (including the liquid), followed by all the beans. Add the coconut milk, curry and cayenne. Salt to taste. Stir until everything is combined, and allow to simmer until the chicken is fully cooked.
You can also make this with 1 pound of ground beef, or no meat at all!
I know I haven’t posted anything in awhile. And while I’m kind of sorry about that, I also really enjoyed the downtime.
And to be quite honest with you, I was feeling a bit uninspired in the kitchen. I know, right? Kind of lame for a food blogger to stop having fun in the kitchen.
I don’t want to post fluff just so I can say I posted something. I write when I’m inspired. Or when I’ve had a success.
Or an epic failure.
And there were so many other things happening in my life–all for the good!–that what we were eating for dinner just kind of went on the back burner. (Kitchen pun! It’s ok, I know I’m hilarious.)
But let’s get back to that gorgeous photo at the top.
Dude, we got a new oven!
I’m in love.
Between the new oven and my dreamboat, I’m kind of in heaven. And! I’m ready to get back in the kitchen.
Watch out world!
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you My KitchenAid Stand Mixer:
(The folks at KitchenAid have no idea I exist, and I’m not getting paid or perked in any way. I’m just seriously in love with my mixer, and my amazing husband who gave it to me. This is a total gush post.)
Remember last Christmas when I yelled at family? This year was stunned silence. Speechless awe.
Yeah, Nick gets me. He knows what’s what.
And this mixer is what, let me tell you!
And my talented husband knows how to work that roller.
Sure, the filling tasted amazing. And balsamic brown butter sauce is epic. But paper thin pasta rolled to perfection just can’t be beaten. Or competed with, really.
And making cookies with this mixer? No sweat.
Literally! I don’t have to mix the chocolate chips in by hand anymore!
You know how some people choose a certain car or shoe designer to fall head over heels for?
For me, it’s this mixer. And I anticipate we’ll spend many happy years together.
Now it just needs a name…
I know, I know. “Pork roast? Come on, Jo; two weeks ago I was gorging myself on honey glazed ham and pierogies.
Roast is so…not festive.”
I hear ya! I do. But I think what I need now is comfort food. And the added luxury of not having to come up with a full dinner menu is so nice. It makes the transition out of the holiday mindset just a little easier.
Pork Roast in the Crockpot
Serves 4 with leftovers
I have to admit, I did not use a recipe or write down what I was throwing into the crockpot, so this is an estimation to the best of my memory. Feel free to add or subtract whatever spices you prefer.
2 pound pork shoulder (or other cut of meat suitable for roast)
1 quart beef or vegetable stock (enough to cover the meat in the crockpot)
1 medium onion, sliced into big chunks
1 or 2 large turnips, sliced into half-rounds
6-8 red potatoes, cut into evenly sized chunks
1 bay leaf
1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
Rosemary, basil, salt, pepper, oregeno and thyme to taste
Pour the stock into your crockpot and add all the seasonings. Stir gently to combine. (If you like a thicker, more gravy-like sauce at the end, add 2-3 tbsp of cornstarch to the stock with the rest of the seasonings.)
Cut the pork in half, or smaller, to ensure that it’s covered almost completely in the stock. Then add the vegetables on top of the roast.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours. You just need to make sure the internal temperature of the pork reaches 160F.
When you buy something at Costco, you don’t just end up with one package. So, the other package of sausages have been sitting in our refrigerator long enough that I was worried we’d have to throw them away if I didn’t come up with something.
Our broccoli was the same deal. We had a lot of it, and although we’d been slowly nibbling on it for awhile, (and adding it to a few dinners) I knew that if I didn’t use up a big portion of it, a big portion of it was going to go in the trash.
Ok, so we totally can, but we needed to use it up faster than nibbling would allow.
You can freeze what you don’t need right away, thereby not wasting any food, and you have back up dinner or lunches when you’re pressed for time.
And Nick thought the sausage taste was disguised enough that he didn’t even realize it was the same sausage. Win one for me
Chicken Sausage Calzones
1 pre-made pizza dough (I used my bread machine, but lots of stores have ready made stuff in the freezer aisle)
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 cup sliced onion
3 sausage links (3 oz each) sliced into rounds. I used these
2/3 cup cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup grated mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste
cornmeal to sprinkle on the baking sheet
Preheat the oven to 350F
On a cookie sheet, spread the sausage out to create one layer. Roast on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes (or until done), making sure to move the sausage around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
On a separate cookie sheet, spread the broccoli and the onion out to create one layer. Roast on the top shelf of the oven for about 15-20 minutes, moving everything around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
Set the vegetables and sausage aside to cool slightly before adding the cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir everything together until fully combined.
Increase the oven heat to 400F
Prepare a stone baking pan or cookie sheet by sprinkling cornmeal onto it.
Divide the pizza dough into 8 equal portions, and roll or spread the dough to create little circles. Add a few spoonfuls of the filling onto one side, leaving about 3/4 of an inch edge. Fold the other side of the dough over to create a pocket, and use a fork to seal the edges. Cut a slit or two in the top, and bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
You know that scene in Amelie where she reaches her hand into a sack of beans because it’s one of her life’s simple pleasures? That’s how I feel about a bag of cornmeal. I have to resist the urge to dip my fingers into it every time I get it out of the cupboard.
It’s ok. I know I’m an odd duck.
1 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 425F
**Follow your favorite cornbread recipe, omitting most–if not all–the sugar. Add enough batter to an 8 inch round pan to fill the bottom about a half inch. (Use the leftover batter to make cornbread muffins!)
Bake the cornbread for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in the broccoli.
Pour the egg mixture over the cornbread, top with the cheese, and reduce the oven temperature to 375F. Put the quiche back into the oven and bake for another 30-35 minutes. Just until the eggs are firm and everything turns a nice golden brown color. Serve hot.
If you want a little more kick or moisture, feel free to add some salsa as a topping.
How’s your summer going?
We’ve been pretty busy, but we’ve managed to do 90% of all the very fun things we love to do when it’s warm outside.
You know, Farmers Market, canoe trips down the river, run through sprinklers, tour with a dance company…that kind of thing.
And because we’ve been so busy, we’ve gotten really good at the seriously fast, seriously easy dinner prep.
These kabobs taste fancy. Like someone spent all day mixing a marinade and then slaving over a hot grill.
(But there’s only four ingredients! Shh, no one has to know that these took no work or thought at all. Just go with it)
Are you ready for the mind-blowing list of ingredients?
I know it seems weird to marinate steak in lime juice, but you just have to trust me. Your mouth will thank you.
Lime Marinated Kabobs
1 pound of roast or steak, cubed
5-6 limes, juiced
Vegetables (we used onion, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, and pineapple cause it’s delicious, but use what you love)
1/4 cup olive oil
Place the cubed meat in a bowl or ziplock bag, and pour the lime juice over the meat. Allow the meat to marinate in the refrigerator for up to a day, but no less than 2 hours.
If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in a pan of water for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, skewer the vegetables and then brush them with the olive oil. Use separate skewers for the meat. We like to do all meat kabobs and all vegetable kabobs to allow for varying grill times. We also have some vegetarian friends who appreciate not having to pick off the meat. We also have some meat eating friends who appreciate not having to pick off the vegetables.
Grill the meat kabobs first, adding more lime juice if they start to dry out. After about 5 minutes, add the vegetable kabobs to the grill and brush on more olive oil if they start to dry out.
You can serve them on the skewers or pull everything off and mix it in a bowl, as you prefer.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear the sprinkler calling my name.
We’ve had a long spring this year. A long wet spring.
Great for the grass and my water bill, not so great for morale.
But even though I’m seriously a happy camper, turning on the oven when it’s 85F in my kitchen is just asking for trouble. And melted popsicles.
So what’s a Jo to do? Make a giant salad! With chicken! And vegetables! And no oven!
Summer Survival Salad
4 unfrozen chicken breasts (I like boneless and skinless, but use what you’ve got)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1-2 cups sugar snap peas (you can leave them whole, but I cut them in half for easier eating)
your favorite mix of lettuce
Marinate the chicken for at least 15 minutes, up to a day, in your favorite Italian salad dressing or vinaigrette (I’ll give you my favorite recipe at the bottom).
Grill the chicken (outside! not in your kitchen!) until fully cooked, adding more marinade each time you turn the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest covered in tin foil before you slice it into strips.
In the meantime, assemble your salad. I like to do it in layers, ’cause it’s more fun that way. Then plate and serve.
My favorite salad dressing/chicken marinade
from Emeril Lagasse
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 clove pressed garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
Add all ingredients into a lidded container. Shake or whisk until everything is combined. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
What are your favorite summer survival foods?
Yes. Always! Variety is the spice of life, my friend. And tempeh, like tofu, is excellent if you take the time to do it right.
Tempeh doesn’t need to get pressed like tofu. And it’s a bit more substantial than extra firm tofu, so it works really well if you’re looking for a meat substitute. Even if you’re not looking for a meat substitute, this fits the bill as hearty and filling, without being heavy. Total comfort food*
*Don’t roll your eyes at me. Tempeh can totally be comfort food!
Sorry, that was my mom sass coming out.
and spices. I threw it in a bag and let it marinate for 15 minutes. It’s hard to get the flavors to soak into the tempeh, so if you really want it saturated, allow it to marinate in the fridge overnight. I did not plan that far ahead.
Orange Tempeh Stir Fry
3 small blocks of tempeh, cut into cubes
juice from two oranges
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove of minced fresh garlic
3/4 tsp ginger
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne, depending on how spicy you like it
1-2 bell peppers, any color, sliced
2 cups chopped broccoli
6-8 small mushrooms, sliced
For the marinade:
Place the tempeh, juice from one orange, 1/4 cup soy sauce, brown sugar and spices into a ziplock bag. Allow it to rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, or overnight. Remove the tempeh, but save the marinade.
Heat an oiled wok or non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the tempeh and stir fry until lightly browned on all sides. Remove the tempeh and set it aside for now.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in the wok and then cook the vegetables until tender crisp. About 3-5 minutes. Add the tempeh and remaining marinade to the vegetables. Then pour in the remaining orange juice and soy sauce. Feel free to add more spices at this point as well. Cook until very hot, making sure that all the vegetables get covered in the sauce. Serve over rice, quinoa, or by itself.
I kept eating this thinking that bok choy would be delicious in here, and if you hate mushrooms, leave them out. Stir fry’s are an excellent way to just use up whatever you have.
Remember, don’t be scared of tempeh if you’ve never had it before. Let me know what you think!