Friday, April 29, 2011

Lemon and Spring

Citrus and Spring go hand in hand, at least to me.  Spring is refreshing after the brown/gray of Winter, and Citrus is refreshing after the heaviness of potatoes and meat, right?

So, even though it's felt like Summer for over a month here in Texas and we haven't had an ounce of moisture since last Fall, we're pretending it's a nice Spring day and we're celebrating with a nice Spring meal.

The sauce in the original recipe was written as a marinade, but since I didn't get on the ball and marinate the meat, (and I usually don't get on the ball to marinate the meat...) I always just use it as a sauce to cook the chicken in, and I double it and thicken it from the original recipe.  So that's what you're getting today, an adaptation of what probably was a good marinade recipe, but now it's an amazing saucy chicken recipe that my kids (and husband) can't get enough of.


6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 chicken boullion cube
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
Cornstarch and cold water, mixed together for thickening - as much as needed to thicken to your preference
Lemon slices for garnish

1. Slice chicken into thin strips, and brown with olive oil in skillet.

2. Mix together all other ingredients excluding cornstarch mixture and add to browned chicken in skillet.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is boiling, add cornstarch mixture until sauce thickens to your preferred thickness.

3. Serve over rice, as usual we used Jasmine rice for it's hearty flavor.  Garnish with lemon slices for fun, or for your family entertainment to see who can suck on the lemon slices longest without flinching...maybe that's just us.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Rolls for Springtime

Thai Fried Rice adapted from Thai Table
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tomato, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons soy sauce - mushroom
pinch ground pepper
1 teaspoons fish sauce
1 cup cooked rice (cook earlier and put in fridge to dry and cool)
3 Thai chili pepper (Optional)
1/3 cup pork or chicken
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lime
1 green onion Optional
2 cloves garlic, minced Optional
2 eggs
Other veggies, such as pea pods, bean sprouts (optional)

When the pan is extremely hot (smoking hot), pour in the oil and follow with meat. Stir quickly. It can get real smoky. If you see that there is juice coming out from your meat and pooling on the bottom and not evaporating, your pan is not hot enough. When the meat is cooked, set it aside or just put it on the side of the pan if you can. Add the egg and scramble the egg until the egg is all cooked. Put the egg aside or just push it aside and make some room on the bottom of the wok. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce and stir. Keep stirring and mixing the rice with ingredients. Add all vegetables. Stir for 1 or 2 more minutes. Sprinkle ground pepper.

Some people like to add a fried egg on top of the fried rice. If you do, add 2 teaspoons of oil, crack the egg and fry until the egg white is crispy. Put the egg on top of fried rice.

Serve hot with a 1/4 wedge of lime and whole green onion.

(I got this recipe online somewhere, long ago)

Spring Rolls
•3 cloves garlic, minced
•1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
•2 green onions, sliced into matchstick pieces
•1 red chili, minced, OR 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (omit if you prefer very mild spring rolls)
•1/2 cup shredded or finely chopped cabbage
•4-6 shiitake mushrooms, cut into matchstick pieces
•1/2 cup medium to firm tofu, sliced into matchstick pieces (If non-vegetarian: add 1/2 cup cooked baby shrimp)
•approx. 2 cups bean sprouts
•1/2 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
•1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
•2 Tbsp. oil, plus more for deep-frying
•1 pkg. spring roll wrappers (thawed if frozen)

•2 Tbsp. regular soy sauce
•2 Tbsp. fish sauce OR vegetarian stir-fry sauce (I like Lee Kum Kee brand)
•2 Tbsp. lime juice
•1/4 tsp. sugar

•Thai sweet chili sauce (available in most supermarkets, Asian section)

1.Place 2 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium to high heat. Add garlic, galangal (or ginger), shallots, and chilli. Stir-fry until fragrant (about 1 minute). Stir-frying Tip: Add a little water to the wok/pan when it gets too dry instead of more oil.
2.Add cabbage, mushrooms, and tofu (or shrimp). As you stir-fry, add the sauce. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes, until vegetables have softened.
3.Remove from heat and add bean sprouts, tossing to mix in.
4.Do a taste test for salt, adding 1 Tbsp. more fish or soy sauce if not salty enough.
5.To assemble rolls, place a spring roll wrapper on a clean working surface. Place one heaping Tbsp. of the filling on the wrapper (if using large wrappers, you will need more). Tips: Spread the filling lengthwise along the spring roll wrapper nearer the end closest to you. Also, try not to include too much of the liquid left in the bottom of your wok/pan (a slotted spoon works well for this - drier filling is better.
6.Now sprinkle some of the fresh coriander and basil over the filling.
7.Fold the left and right sides of wrapper over filling, then lift up the wide end nearest you and tuck overtop. Roll to the other end. Secure the roll by dipping your fingers in some water and wetting the end, "pasting" it shut.
8.To fry spring rolls, place some oil (about 1 inch deep) in a wok or deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. When bubbles rise, or when the oil begins to form snake-like lines across the bottom of the pan, the oil may be hot enough. To test it, dip one corner of a spring roll into the oil. If it beginsto sizzle and cook, the oil is ready. If not, wait another 30 seconds to one minute and try again.
9.Using tongs, place spring rolls in oil, allowing them to fry about 1 minute on each side. Spring rolls are done when they turn light to medium golden-brown (see photo). Place on paper towels (or a clean dish towel) to drain while you finish frying the rest.
10.Serve spring rolls while still hot with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, or your own dipping sauce (see recipe bellow). ENJOY!

TO MAKE YOUR OWN DIPPING SAUCE: Mix 1/3 cup plum sauce with 3 Tbsp. soy sauce. Add fresh cut red chili or dried crushed chili as desired.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives

I love food networks and cooking shows.  As inspiring as they are, I love most watching whip together food quickly, efficiently and plating it beautifully.  That doesn't happen at our house.  I may whip it together quickly, sometimes efficiently, but the plating is lost in the six of us wolfing it down without stopping to admire the beauty of the dish.  Hence the lack of pictures lately.  Sorry, we're hungry.

Last time Shane and I sat down to watch Triple D (yes, the title post, it's too long to type again) Guy Fieri watched a chef make Pastitsio.  Shane fell in love, but of course the restaurant didn't expose all of it's little secrets or the recipe in total, so we googled it...

This is the closest we could find, from Ina Garten...the restaurant we watched make it used only beef, no lamb.  If I make this I will be using only beef too.


2009, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved
Picture of Pastitsio Recipe

For the Tomato Meat Sauce:

For the Bechamel:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Kasseri cheese
  • 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total
  • 3/4 pound small shells


For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef and lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon. Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Don't over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside.
Add the pasta to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Fool's Fail

Last year I went all out for our April Fool's Day dinner.  If you'll remember it involved cupcakes and meatloaf; it was awesome.

This year, between packing Shane and Lincoln up for an overnight camping trip, and babysitting three extra young children, I didn't get it done.  I managed to come up with a lame and complete ineffective food prank...

sugarless Koolaid.

Apparently my husband just thought I was frazzled enough after an afternoon of 7 kids, 6 of which were 6 and under, and I had just forgotten to add the sugar.  Lincoln thought it tasted watered down, but he drank it anyway.  I didn't even try it on the other kids, my prankster high had been blown and it was pointless to go on with it.

I'm getting back in the game next year.  And, I'm refusing to babysit on April Fool's, just in case.

Did any of you do anything fun, exciting and effective for April Fool's?  I mean, I need all the advice/help/ideas that I can get!